Britain is due to have a new prime minister imminently, after Conservative leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom sensationally dropped out of the race to replace David Cameron.

Theresa May has become the sole hopeful to become the UK’s second female leader, after her rival quit on Monday morning. 

Leadsom admitted she was “shattered” by the experience of intense media scrutiny since securing the second place on the ballot paper in the leadership contest. She said she had decided she did not have sufficient support among MPs “to lead a strong and stable government”.

Speaking on the steps of her campaign HQ in Westminster, the Energy Minister wished Mrs May “the very greatest success” and promised her “my full support”.

She said the country needed a new PM as soon as possible and Mrs May was ideally placed to deliver Britain’s withdrawal from the EU following last month’s referendum. She added: “A nine-week leadership campaign at such a critical moment for our country is highly undesirable.”

The chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee was due to make a swift statement following Mrs Leadsom’s departure, amid speculation that he will confirm that, as the only candidate remaining on the ballot paper, Mrs May can become leader without facing a vote of the party’s 150,000 members.

Home Secretary May, who was in pole position with 199 votes in the leadership contest following the final round, said she could “unite our party and our country”.

As the UK’s longest-serving home secretary, she has been supportive of the Jewish community, instilling confidence in fighting anti-Semitism.

During her time in the role, she pledged £13m funding to protect from the threat of terrorism and lauded a new national Holocaust memorial as a potent “reminder of the past”, amid an increase in hate crimes.

At the annual Community Security Trust dinner in March she said: “No one wants the school where they send their child to need security guards, or have their place of worship to be fitted with security alarms and blast resistant glass”, adding that the government stands by the community.

On Israel, she has been an advocate for security and supports a two-state solution.

However, her stance on immigration has been criticised by Jewish human rights group Rene Cassin. Following her speech at the 2014 Conservative Party conference, they said she “demonstrated a wilful ignorance of international law regarding refugees” and “peddled harmful and false myths” about the impact of immigration in the UK.