The Latest: Merkel: UK needs to clarify intentions quickly

LONDON – The Latest on the Conservative Party leadership race in Britain (all times local):

8:25 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Britain “will have to quickly clarify how it wants to shape its relationship to the European Union in the future.”

According to German news agency dpa, the chancellor made the comment Monday night at a reception for diplomatic corps near Berlin, but didn’t explicitly refer to the news that Theresa May will become Britain’s next prime minister.

She said simply that it is now up to the United Kingdom to officially tell the EU that it wants to leave the bloc — only then can the procedure begin.

Dpa reported that Merkel said the UK would remain an important partner for Germany.

According to the dpa, Merkel also said that, “I’m firmly convinced that the European Union is strong enough to absorb this break as well.”


6:25 p.m.

David Cameron has gone out not with a bang, nor a whimper, but a mystery tune.

Seconds after the British prime minister finished telling reporters of his intention to step down from office this week, he walked back through the door of his Downing Street residence — and the live microphone he was still wearing caught him in an unguarded musical moment.

“Do doooooooo, do doooo,” he sang to himself, according to the clip sent by BBC reporter Daniel Sandford.

It wasn’t immediately clear what tune Cameron was singing, but the social media world poured forth with often-satirical suggestions. One writer opined that Cameron had just unwittingly revealed the secret “Open Sesame” musical code for the Downing Street door. Another theorized that it was Cameron’s personal “game over” videogame hook. Some thought they detected a hint of “The West Wing” theme tune.

Soon, hastily remastered clips of Cameron’s doings accompanied to the beats of Dr. Dre were doing the social media rounds.


5:40 p.m.

Incoming British Prime Minister Theresa May says she is “honoured and humbled” to be chosen as new leader.

May addressed her supporters amid a dramatic and turbulent day, trying to reassure the public with characteristic grit and poise. The point was to underscore that the transfer of power will happen smoothly after the vote favouring a British exit from the European Union, or Brexit.

In her brief statement, she repeated that “Brexit means Brexit” and she will make a success of it.

One of the most experienced ministers in government, May is set to be the country’s new prime minister following 18 tumultuous days in politics since the EU referendum.

The 59-year-old became the leader in waiting when her only rival withdrew from the race, citing a need for national stability and continuity following the vote.


5:10 p.m.

Britain’s Conservative Party has confirmed that Theresa May has been elected party leader “with immediate effect” and will become the country’s next prime minister.

Graham Brady, who heads the committee running the leadership election, says May was confirmed by the party board after her only remaining rival withdrew from the race.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will step down on Wednesday and May will immediately replace him.

May, who has been Britain’s home secretary for six years, will become the country’s second female prime minister.


4 p.m.

Prime Minister David Cameron says he will step down on Wednesday, making way for Theresa May to succeed him as British leader.

Cameron says it’s clear May has “the overwhelming support” of Conservative lawmakers. He says May’s rival Andrea Leadsom made the right decision to withdraw from the race, ending the party leadership race.

Cameron says he will attend a final session of Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday before going to visit Queen Elizabeth II and tendering his resignation.

The queen has the formal role of appointing the new leader.


3:55 p.m.

The eurozone’s top official says it’s important that Britain’s next prime minister gets on with sorting out the implications of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union as soon as possible.

Speaking after it became apparent that Theresa May could replace David Cameron as soon as this week, Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the next British prime minister will have to “find solutions for the Brexit which has been causing a lot of problems particularly for the U.K., but also for Europe.”

He said that the “sooner we can sort out this problematic situation the better.”

Dijsselbloem spoke ahead of a meeting of the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers in Brussels.

Though Britain’s decision to leave the EU isn’t a primary topic of discussion, the finance ministers have a number of thorny issues to address that have been elevated in the wake of the referendum result, such as the financial health of Italian banks.


12:40 p.m.

The head of the committee running the Conservative leadership contest says it and the party board will meet to discuss confirming Theresa May as the winner of the race and Britain’s next prime minister.

May’s only opponent, Andrea Leadsom, has dropped out of the contest, saying she does not have enough support.

Graham Brady, who heads the party’s policymaking 1922 Committee, said he would consult the board on Monday before formally confirming that May is the new leader.

He did not suggest re-opening the contest, saying May is now the only contender.

Asked if May would be declared leader by the end of the day he said “it won’t take nine weeks” — the time the race had been due to last.


12:25 p.m.

Andrea Leadsom, who has withdrawn from the race to be Britain’s prime minister, faced a media frenzy over the weekend after comments about the role of motherhood in politics.

She said Monday that “business needs certainty” in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. The vote has unsettled the markets and sent the value of the pound plunging.

She said Britain needs a government that will “move quickly to set out what an independent United Kingdom’s framework for business looks like.

“We now need a new prime minister in place as soon as possible,” Leadsom said.


12:20 p.m.

Conservative lawmaker Andrea Leadsom — one of two candidates to become Britain’s prime minister — has pulled out of the race.

Leadsom says she has concluded she does not have “sufficient support” to win. She says the country needs certainty, not a nine-week leadership race.

The announcement leaves Home Secretary Theresa May the only candidate standing to replace David Cameron as Conservative leader and prime minister.

The party is expected to say whether it will to re-open the contest to candidates eliminated in earlier rounds, or declare May the winner unopposed. If so, May could be prime minister within days.


12 p.m.

One of the two Conservative candidates to be British prime minister has apologized for any hurt she might have caused her rival with comments that suggested being a mother was an advantage in the job.

Andrea Leadsom said sorry to Theresa May, who has no children, amid the uproar touched off by her Times of London interview. Leadsom insisted she didn’t want motherhood to be part of the campaign.

The two women are in a Conservative Party runoff to replace Prime Minister David Cameron, who is resigning after British voters rejected his advice and chose to leave the European Union in a referendum last month.

Leadsom told the Times that “I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.”

Leadsom later accused the newspaper of practicing “gutter journalism” and twisting her sentiments in the story, run under the headline “being a mother gives me edge on May— Leadsom.”

The Times released a recording of part of the interview to show it had quoted Leadsom accurately.

Leadsom told Monday’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that she believed that having children has “no bearing on the ability to be PM.”

“I deeply regret that anyone has got the impression that I think otherwise,” she said.

Leadsom’s rivals said both her comments and her subsequent flip-flopping show the junior energy minister doesn’t have the experience under pressure required to be prime minister. Her allies accused supporters of May — Britain’s interior minister — of attempting to undermine Leadsom.

British politics has been thrown into turmoil by the referendum result, which has sparked leadership struggles in both the governing Conservative and main opposition Labour parties.

Labour lawmaker Angela Eagle was Monday launching an attempt to unseat party leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran left-winger who has a strong base of support among Labour members but little backing from the party’s 229 lawmakers.

Labour legislators have passed a no-confidence motion in Corbyn, and many of his top team in Parliament resigned from their jobs to protest his leadership. He is refusing to resign and says he can win a leadership battle, which would be decided by a vote of party members.

Many Labour lawmakers believe the staunchly socialist, resolutely uncharismatic Corbyn lacks broad appeal to voters. Eagle said he “doesn’t connect enough to win an election.”


Associated Press writer Danica Kirka contributed to this story.