Britain's new Conservative Party leader Theresa May speaks to members of the media at The St Stephen's entrance to the Palace of Westminster in London on July 11, 2016. / AFP / CHRIS RATCLIFFE
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Interior minister Theresa May will become Britain's prime minister Wednesday, with the task of steering its withdrawal from the European Union, after rival Andrea Leadsom abruptly terminated her short-lived and disastrous leadership campaign.May, 59, will succeed David Cameron, who announced he was stepping down after Britons unexpectedly voted last month to quit the EU. Britain's planned withdrawal has weakened the 28-nation bloc, created huge uncertainty over trade and investment, and shaken financial markets.May will become Britain's second female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher.Her victory means that the complex process of extricating Britain from the EU will be led by someone from the losing side of the acrimonious referendum campaign. The 52-to-48 percent vote to quit the EU after 43 years of membership was a stunning rebuke to Britain's political leaders and especially Cameron, who had argued that breaking away would bring economic disaster.More than 1,000 British lawyers said in a letter to Cameron that members of parliament, not lawyers, should decide whether Britain leaves the EU because the referendum was not legally binding.
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