- Stephen Crabb dropped out of contention and will support frontrunner Theresa May
- Three remaining candidates vie for the job, results will be announced September 9
(CNN)They came, they saw, they conquered -- and then they walked away.
The victorious Brexiters have left their mark, but Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage are unlikely to play any part in the UK's next big decision -- who should become the new British prime minister.
The Conservative Party took a step closer to determining the leader Tuesday when, in a first round of voting, the party eliminated former Defense Secretary Liam Fox from the ballot, according to Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee.
Fox, who missed out on becoming leader of the Conservative Party in 2005, was forced to resign from his defense secretary post in 2011 amid a lobbying scandal involving a close friend, Adam Werrity. Fox had the backing of eight members of Parliament and was never considered a threat to trouble the frontrunners.
Fox said he was disappointed he didn't progress further in the contest, but he thanked his supporters and promised "a statement about my intentions in due course."
"I felt it was vital to stress the importance of national security in this debate and the need for a clear path to our exit from the European Union. I hope I have achieved both these objectives," he said.
Home Secretary Theresa May won the first round of voting in the bid to replace David Cameron, who announced he is stepping down following the Brexit decision, in which voters cast ballots in favor of leaving the European Union. Tuesday's votes were as follows:
• Theresa May -- 165
• Andrea Leadsom -- 66
• Michael Gove -- 48
• Stephen Crabb -- 34
• Liam Fox --16
Whoever is elected to lead the party will have to negotiate Britain's exit from the European Union and invoke that much-talked-about clause -- Article 50 -- which governs an EU departure.
It won't be Crabb. He withdrew his name from consideration later Tuesday and gave his support to May.
How the vote works
When a prime minister resigns, he or she must be replaced. And that's a decision made among the party MPs and party members.
Members of Cameron's Conservative Party who are seeking to become prime minister need the backing of at least two MPs to officially run.
When there are three or more candidates, MPs vote in an initial round -- which is what happened Tuesday -- and then keep holding rounds until the number is whittled down to two. A final vote goes out to the wider party, and the winner is Britain's new prime minister.
The result is expected to be announced September 9.
Theresa May is the big favorite with the bookmakers and leads the way with 131 backers within the Parliamentary party, but she's unlikely to have it all her own way.
One of the longest-serving home secretaries in British political history, she backed the Remain campaign, although rather quietly.
May has already said that no general election should take place before 2020, and she has been realistic about abandoning the target of eliminating Britain's budget deficit before the end of the decade.
The 59-year-old is seen as a reliable pair of hands by those in the party but has come in for criticism over her stance on whether EU migrants will be able to remain in Britain after a Brexit.
While she has assured members of her party that she wants EU nationals to stay, she is refusing to make any promises before carrying out negotiations with the European Union.
May had also wanted the UK to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, but has now dropped the idea with Parliament unlikely to support it.
One of the stars of the Brexit campaign, Andrea Leadsom, has come from nowhere to become a serious contender for the top job.
A fierce advocate of leaving the EU, she has already said she would invoke Article 50 as soon as possible.
It marks quite a turnaround for Leadsom, 53, who warned it would be a "disaster" for the UK to leave the EU in a speech three years ago.
She defended that stance, saying that she had been on a "journey" since and had changed her mind.
The energy minister and a former banker, she has already been backed by 41 MPs, including Boris Johnson.
Leadsom may lack experience in frontline politics, but as she pointed out: "Our current prime minister hadn't been in government at all before he become leader and then prime minister."
None of the candidates have provided social media with as much comedy material as Michael Gove -- from the way he claps to the way he drinks a glass of water.
Not that Gove helps himself. At his announcement, he said: "Whatever charisma is, I don't have it. Whatever glamor may be, I don't think anyone could ever associate me with it."
Just 26 MPs are backing Gove at this stage, with a large majority of the party still stunned by what they see as his betrayal of Johnson.
Gove, 48, the justice secretary, decided to withdraw his support after his "heart told him" he should put himself forward.
He was accused of Machiavellian tactics while one MP urged him to stand aside for the sake of party unity.
A key part of the Leave campaign, Gove has pledged to wait until 2017 before starting the UK's withdrawal from the EU.