World Bulletin / News Desk
May took 165 votes -- half of the party’s 330 lawmakers -- to establish herself as the clear frontrunner in the contest to succeed David Cameron.
The leadership election was called after Cameron announced he would resign following last month’s referendum decision to the leave the EU.
In a statement shortly after the first round results were announced, May said: “There is a big job before us: to unite our party and the country, to negotiate the best possible deal as we leave the EU and to make Britain work for everyone.
“I am the only candidate capable of delivering these three things as prime minister and tonight it is clear that I am the only one capable of drawing support from the whole of the Conservative Party.”
May had been in favor of the U.K. remaining in the EU in the campaign leading up to the June 23 vote.
Energy Minster Andrea Leadsom, who rose to prominence during televised debates as she called for Britain to leave the EU, won 66 votes in Wednesday’s contest.
Justice Secretary Michael Gove and Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb followed with 48 and 34 votes respectively.
Former Defense Secretary Liam Fox was automatically eliminated from the contest after coming last with 16 votes.
The one Conservative lawmaker not to vote was Cameron. He is not openly supporting any candidate.
Lawmakers will hold a second round of voting on Thursday among the remaining four candidates. A further round may be held next week to reduce the field to two candidates who will then compete for the support of party members with the eventual winner to be declared on Sept. 9.