THE appointment of Theresa May as the next Prime Minister has been welcomed by Somerset's MPs.

Following today's announcement, MP for Taunton Deane Rebecca Pow said: "I am delighted that Theresa May will be our next Prime Minister.

"What the country needs now is stability and strong leadership and I am confident that Theresa offers this."

Ms Pow added: "I have worked closely with her in the past on subjects including the Psychoactive Substances Bill and I believe her to be a compassionate, competent and diligent politician.

"Looking ahead Theresa is the best person to lead us through the unprecedented times ahead and she will have my full support going forward."

Mrs May visited the Gazette offices in Taunton 16 months ago in the lead-up to the 2015 General Election, when she praised local efforts to rid our streets of so-called legal highs.

Mrs May, one of the longest serving Home Secretaries, worked closely with Ms Pow's predecessor as Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne (LibDem) when he was a Home Office Minister.

Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger said Andrea Leadsom’s surprise withdrawal from the Tory leadership race is the best possible news the country could have had.

He said it would have been ‘unthinkable’ to have endured a protracted contest right through to September when there was such an obvious and urgent need for stability to be restored.

“We in this country have taken the biggest collective political decision for decades and one which has altered the whole spectrum of political life,” Mr Liddell-Grainger said.

“The last thing the country or the party needed was a summer spent wrangling when our greatest need is to restore confidence and to start working urgently on reshaping the way the UK runs and adjusting to life outside the EU.

“Theresa May was clearly the outstanding candidate and she commands a great deal of respect, both within her party, within the country and internationally.

“David Cameron will be handing over to a very safe pair of hands. At a purely local level I shall be writing to Mrs May immediately to acquaint her with the issues such as flooding which have required Prime Ministerial attention in the last few years and looking to her to pledge her own support for a long-term solution to the problems we still face in Somerset.”

Marcus Fysh, MP for South Somerset, also welcomed the annoucement that Mrs May will take over as Prime Minister.

"I welcome Theresa May's appointment as Leader of the Conservative Party and am pleased she will be Prime Minister from Wednesday evening," Mr Fysh said.

"She is a strong person who I have a lot of respect for and I am confident she will fulfil our manifesto pledges and deliver on the people's instruction to leave the European Union.

"I have offered my assistance in negotiations to leave so that we can get a good deal focused on the opportunities, giving businesses and individuals the positive certainty needed as soon as possible.

"It is now time for the Conservative family and friends to come together and rededicate ourselves to working hard for the British people."