She is the UK’s second female prime minister. Here’s everything you need to know about this 59-year-old home secretary’s political history and expectations
Theresa May became the new Conservative Party leader, and thus the UK’s new Prime Minister. This is after her opponent, Andrea Leadsom, dropped out of the race surprisingly on Monday, nine weeks before the official vote was supposed to take place. Yesterday David Cameron delivered his resignation to the Queen, recommending that May be appointed as his successor.
- May has been MP for Maidenhead since 1997.
- She has been the Home Secretary since May 2010, making history by being the longest serving home secretary for more than 100 years.
- She initially started working at the Bank of England and later became head of the European Affairs Unit of the Association for Payment Clearing Services.
- She began her career in politics as a local councillor in Merton, South London, where in her decade working there she rose to become deputy leader.
- Her policy on immigration is one of the things she is most known for. In her time as Home Secretary she has dedicated herself to reducing migration into the UK. One of her more controversial policies was a rule barring British citizens from bringing their spouses or children into Britain unless they earned £18,600, regardless of how much the spouse earned. Under her time in office hundreds of asylum seekers, including women and children, have been kept in detention centers before being deported. She also initiated a billboard campaign telling immigrants to, ‘Go home or face arrest’, with vans carrying the same slogan advertising a helpline for illegal immigrants so they can go back to their home country.
- She voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, after having previously voted against repealing a law that banned schools from intentionally promoting homosexuality, and against reducing the age of consent for gay sex.
- She has pushed for more action against domestic violence by creating a law against coercive control, and initiating a nationwide inquiry by the HMIC into the treatment of domestic violence victims by police.
- She has always been a strong supporter of workers’ rights, and has made that a keystone of her leadership by pledging to give workers a place on company boards and for the annual shareholder vote on executive pay to become binding, not advisory.
- She has changed her stance over the years on university tuition fees, but most recently in 2010 she voted to raise the tuition fee cap. She is also a strong supporter of Michael Gove’s free schools endeavor, which allows for groups such as parents, teachers, charities, businesses, universities, etc., to set up not-for-profit schools funded by the central government. These are exempt from teaching the national curriculum and have increased control over teachers and conditions, as well as the length of the school days and terms.
- Her Investigatory Powers Bill, which would allow for the storage of internet browsing records for 12 months and authorize the bulk collection of personal data, is currently under review in the House of Lords.
- She has voted consistently for going to war in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan.
What to Expect
- The first thing May will have to do once she settles into Downing Street is to appoint a new Cabinet. Her team is expected to be full of people who have so far flown under the radar in Parliament, such as Simon Kirby, George Hollingbery, Gavin Williamson, her campaign chief, and Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis. Chris Grayling and Liam Fox who have been supporting her leadership bid might also be expecting significant roles. It is also expected that her government will be filled with more women such as Amber Rudd, Priti Patel, Karen Bradley, and Government Whip Sarah Newton — all seem to be in line for promotions.
- Though many have called for an early general election, May was insistent that there would be no general election until it is legally required.
- May was a Remain campaigner but after the results of the Referendum she has said that: ‘Brexit means Brexit — and we’re going to make a success of it’. She insists that there will be ‘no attempt to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it by the back door, and no second referendum’. She also means to make it a priority to invoke article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which will formally launch the process of separation and give Britain two years to depart from the EU, by the end of the year.
- She says that it is a priority of negotiations for Brexit to allow British companies access to the single market, but she will seek action on free movement.