The results are in, and Michael Gove is out. While neither of our potential female prime ministers has particularly favourable opinions on Middle Eastern affairs, Andrea Leadsom is the lesser of two evils.
Unfortunately, Theresa May is still far ahead in the race for prime minister; Michael Gove was knocked out with 46 votes compared to Leadsom’s 84 and May’s 199.
For the future of the Middle East, it would be best if Leadsom could close this gap and defeat May. As the Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Leadsom gained extensive knowledge about nuclear safety and regulations. She has already established that she sees Iraq as a “key partner.” Leadsom’s experience in this field will make her more likely to have prior experience with the region and to understand the importance of maintaining stable relationships with other countries in the Middle East, even maintaining these relationships is only out of self-interest.
Meanwhile, May’s policies regarding the Middle East are slightly less favourable. Her recently launched review of Sharia law, while relevant, shows a reluctance to be understanding and accepting of other views and cultures. This is further exhibited by her statement that she will attempt to ensure that citizenship is only granted to people who “embrace British values.”
Neither Theresa May nor Andrea Leadsom is afraid to use force overseas, which could lead to further violence in the Middle East. Both also have very harsh immigration policies, which will certainly not do anything to improve the fates of refugees. It is clear that the future role of the UK in the Middle East is uncertain, but no matter which of these two women is chosen to lead this country, there is reason to be concerned about how Middle Eastern affairs will be handled.