Tory Leadership: May v Leadsom brings change

Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom Image copyright PA

One vote sometimes changes many things.

The extent of Theresa's May victory over the other two candidates makes her the clear favourite to move into Number 10 in September.

It's important to remember though, the contest moves from Westminster now out to the country for Tory supporters to make their minds up. And the party membership is not in any way bound to follow the recommendation of its MPs.

They are, like most British voters, a pretty determined bunch who are not necessarily well-disposed to being told what to do.

Enthusiasts for the home secretary full of delight at the extent of her victory may have to tread carefully, to avoid irking their constituency members by giving them instruction, rather than friendly advice.

The dramatic emergence of Andrea Leadsom as one of the final two marks her as a politician destined for a major job even if she doesn't win the contest.

Notting Hill Tories

A few weeks ago, before the referendum, she was not even particularly well known around Westminster, so for her to have reached this stage is a remarkable achievement in itself.

Tory MPs' decisions today also guarantee that the next prime minister will be a woman.

Maybe that shouldn't matter very much anymore, and it may not matter very much to that many people now, but it will only be the second time in our country's history that it will have happened - that alone makes it significant.

And for the political nerds, myself included, one of the wider significances about today's ballot?

It perhaps also marks a brutal end to the commanding influence of the group known as the Notting Hill Tories - who together pushed David Cameron to lead the party in 2005, then into Number Ten five years later.

They have controlled the upper echelons of the Tory party for a decade, and they hoped, if not even assumed that they would control the succession.

With Michael Gove's departure from the race, their power and control fade too, and along with them maybe a particular way of doing politics.

Look carefully at some of faces smiling behind May and Leadsom. That shift in power away from David Cameron's "set" explains at least some of the grins.

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