Monday 11 July 2016 12:16 pm

Andrea Leadsom quits Conservative leadership race - meaning Michael Gove or Boris Johnson could be back in the running against Theresa May

Andrea Leadsom has quit the Conservative leadership race and called for Theresa May to be installed as the new Prime Minister.

The energy minister announced that she would be leaving the contest by reading a letter she had written to the 1922 Committee, in a press appearance at her front door this afternoon.

Leadsom used her withdrawal speech to back May's campaign to be leader, and said May would be better placed to lead a government with "strong" support, and called for May to be appointed immediately. The energy minister also said May is "ideally placed to implement Brexit".

Iain Duncan Smith, who backed Leadsom's campaign, said he would now be backing May, and Owen Patterson urged the government to "push on" with appointing her as PM.

Leadsom's announcement overshadowed Angela Eagle's official announcement that she would make a bid for the Labour leadership.

Leadsom had faced criticism over the weekend for comments she made in the press about her rival. The South Northamptonshire told the Times that being a mother gave her the "edge" over May, who doesn't have children. After facing a flood of criticism over the comments, Leadsom said she had been misquoted.

This morning, Leadsom issued an apology to May, stating that having children has "no bearing on the ability to be Prime Minister".

There are three possible scenarios that could arise out of Leadsom's withdrawal – Theresa May could be named Prime Minister imminently, the race could re-open between May and Gove, who came third in the most recent Tory ballot, or the race could be opened up entirely again.

Sources have told City A.M. that Boris Johnson or Michael Gove could be set to re-enter the race.

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