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Theresa May to become British PM on Wednesday: Cameron

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– General election call –

The pound, which hit a 31-year low in the wake of the Brexit vote, briefly rose after Leadsom, a pro-Brexit figure with no senior ministerial experience, withdrew from contention to be prime minister.

As senior MP Angela Eagle formally launched her leadership challenge against Corbyn, Labour suggested a general election would need to be held soon after May takes office.

“It is crucial, given the instability caused by the Brexit vote, that the country has a democratically elected prime minister,” said election coordinator Jon Trickett.

“I am now putting the whole of the party on a general election footing.”

May, a 59-year-old clergyman’s daughter will be Britain’s second female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher, who was in office from 1979-1990.

She has portrayed herself as the leader who can unite the country following a bitterly divisive campaign, and a tough negotiator who can stand up to Brussels in what promise to be tortuous talks over Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Leadsom’s withdrawal means all the top Brexit campaigners – Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Leadsom and outgoing UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage – have now stepped back from leadership roles.

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“Brexiteers threw rocks through the window, now they’re all running away from the house,” author Salman Rushdie said on Twitter.

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