Theresa May is all set to become the next Prime Minister of United Kingdom on Wednesday, following the resignation of the current Prime Minister, David Cameron. With this appointment, Theresa May will become the second female Prime Minister of the country, after Margaret Thatcher. Following Britain’s decision to exit from the EU, talks of George Osborne, Boris Johnson and even Sajid Javid as being the ones to watch out for as Cameron’s successor, were ripe in the last few days. Theresa May was a name not much mentioned amid all the chatter. But as Cameron is stepping down from his position, it will be May who will take up his responsibilities and bring Brexit to its conclusion.
Taking up the mantle at a time of uncertainty and much anxiety, Theresa May has a tough challenge ahead of her. Brexit has been termed by some experts as the worst political crisis to affect the country, since May 1940. May however, has a ministerial experience to back her up and is a pragmatic politician.
Here’s what you should know about the 59-year old Tory leader, heading to 10 Downing Street this week.
Born in 1956 in Eastbourne, Theresa May is an only child. Her father was a vicar at the Church of England. May attended St Hugh’s College at Oxford University where she studied geography. Her career included a stint at the UK’s reserve bank – the Bank of England.
Theresa May entered politics in 1986 as a local councilor and became a member of the Parliament in 1997 for Maidenhead.
Her personal life
Theresa May married Philip May in 1980. Philip is an investment banker with Capital International. The couple has no children and May expressed regret in an interview about not being able to have children due to health reasons.
May is a Christian and a part of the Church of England. She enjoys walking and cooking outside of her work. May is also known for her love of fashion, particularly her leopard-print heels. She is also a Type 1 diabetic and is administered a dose of insulin injections twice daily.
An avowed feminist
Theresa May has fought to address the country’s wage gap among the genders in 2008. She is a liberal conservative and is a supporter of gender equality and gay marriages.
Theresa May was for EU membership
Though she was not especially vocal or enthusiastic about it, Theresa May supported UK’s bid to remain in the EU. However, she has refused to ignore the results of the referendum held last month, in which Britain voted to exit. “Brexit means Brexit. And we are going to make a success of it,” May said. “There will be no attempt to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it by the back door, and no second referendum.” Brexit will remain the dominant topic on her agenda, at least in the short term.
May has served as home secretary
Since 2010, Theresa May has been attached to the government, serving as the home secretary and has overseen counterterrorism and immigration issues. She is one of the longest running home secretaries in the history of British politics and has been largely successful in her role.
She is tough on immigration
Theresa May has taken a tough stance on immigration in her role as home secretary. She is known for tightening immigration controls and is not very welcoming of refugees and immigrants either from within or outside the bloc. “When immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society,” May said in 2015. The EU’s proposal of refugee quotas being made mandatory was rejected by May, who believes that helping people in war-torn regions and in refugee camps is important but not at the expense of those who are wealthy enough to make it to Europe. Theresa May is also notorious for a billboard campaign that stated, “Go home or face arrest.”
Margaret Thatcher 2.0?
It is inevitable that Theresa May will be compared and likened to Margaret Thatcher; May after all is poised to become the second female Prime Minister in British history. The Tory leader however has shrugged off comparisons. “I think there can only ever be one Margaret Thatcher. I’m not someone who naturally looks to role models. Whatever job it is I’m doing at the time, I put my all into it, and try to do the best job I can.”
First things first
Theresa May’s first task will be agreeing to the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Formal negotiations will begin only once Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered. May had pronounced earlier that she would not trigger it before January 2017 which would not go down well with those on the continent. But if she triggers it any earlier her critics at home may target her on it.
Another question Theresa May will have to face is – what happens to the three million EU nationals currently working and residing in Britain? May’s current stance on the issue is that as long as Britons living in EU are safeguarded, the right of the EU nationals to live in UK will continue.
Awaiting a formal resignation
David Cameron will formally resign to the Queen on Wednesday, who is due to return to London on Wednesday by 1 pm. Cameron will head to Buckingham Palace to tender his resignation followed by Theresa May meeting with the Queen. May will then enter 10 Downing Street as Britain’s new Prime Minister. She will be the country’s 76th Prime Minister and is expected to appoint the new members of her Cabinet on Thursday.