“The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of a privileged few, but by yours”- a composed Theresa May speaks out to the citizens of Britain on Wednesday morning, as she is sworn in as the 76th Prime Minister under Queen Elizabeth II.
May, who represents the Conservative Party, is also the second female in Britain’s history to occupy the hot-seat of Prime Minister, after the late Margaret Thatcher in 1990. An hour following his resignation, David Cameron proposed May as his successor and the leader of the Conservative Party, where he said- “I am delighted that for the second time in British history the new prime minister will be a woman – and once again, a Conservative. I believe Theresa will provide strong and stable leadership in fulfilling the Conservative manifesto on which we were elected.”
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May’s selection came when her last remaining rival — Andrea Leadsom, took herself out of the running. With her work cut out for her, following Britain’s recent ‘Brexit’ from the European Union, May has wasted no time naming six Cabinet members shortly after her ascent to power.
“David Cameron has led a one-nation government, and it is in that spirit that I also plan to lead,” she said in her first public speech made as Prime Minister.
An alumna of Oxford University, May entered the workings of the Parliament in 1997 where she held many roles, including that of the Home Secretary— a position she held from May 12, 2010 to July 13, 2016, when she was sworn in as Prime Minister.
As the world waits with bated breath to see what May has in mind as Prime Minister and how she is going to deal with a changing economy and society following the ‘Brexit’, we list out a few things that you probably don’t know about Britain’s newest Prime Minister.
- A daughter to a vicar, May attended a variety of comprehensive and grammar schools in Oxfordshire before she went on to earn her Bachelors in Geography from Oxford University. Although a regular church-goer, she claims that ‘British politics’ does not let religion interfere with itself and she aims to follow that model. She is also aware of other cultures, seen when she quoted a few lines from the Quran while rebutting the ideology of the Islamic State in a 2014 conference speech.
- She met her husband of 35 years, Philip May, a British investment relationship manager, at a dance when she was still in college. Although the couple have no children, a sensitive topic for May, they are each other’s pillars for everything. After May’s parents tragically passed away a year after she was married, Philip was the one to see her through her worst.
- May’s advent into the Parliament took place in 1997 as the opposition’s member for Maidenhead. Following this, she held important roles that included shadow portfolios for education, employment, work and pensions. She was also an active member in the House of Commons and spoke out about many pertinent social issues like gender equality and immigration.
- May could be considered a feminist through and through, championing causes like ‘equal pay’ and ‘shared parental leave’. She has always been vocal about her views on domestic violence, imposing a law which deemed even ‘any emotionally controlling behaviour that stops short of physical attack’ a ‘criminal offence’. She also played an active role in campaigns aiming to defeat female genital mutilation and sex-trafficking.
- She often keeps a low profile about her personal life and some have even termed her ‘closed off’. However, she is an extremely confident and opinionated lady who has had many clashes with former members of the Parliament like Michael Gove, over how to tackle ‘Islamic extremism’. She called the Tories ‘the nasty party’ in a speech made in 2002 and has even accused many police officers of showing ‘contempt for the public’. It just goes to show that she will not turn her back on what she believes in, a strong sign for a leader of a nation as powerful as Britain.
- She is ardently opposed to the UK’s high level of immigration. According to VOX, as Home Secretary, May used the platform to impose a rule that would block immigrants from permanently settling in the UK, if they made less than £37,000 a year. If they failed to meet this quota, they would be deported.
- She was for ‘remain’ during last month’s referendum on leaving the EU, but since the country voted to ‘leave’, she now has her hands full with trying to make the ‘Brexit’ as graceful as possible, leaving less room for the recession that threatens to plague the economy on its leave. “As we leave the European Union, we will forge a bold, new, positive role for ourselves in the world,” she said in her speech.
- May doesn’t let anything bog her down, even ‘Type 1 diabetes’! Being vocal about her condition, she has stated that it does not affect her rule in any way, save for the doses of insulin she needs to take. She even once told a reporter, “Diabetes must learn to live with me, rather than me live with diabetes”.
- She may be a Conservative but she’s got an ‘across-the-board high tax, high spending agenda’ that will impress almost all liberals.
- According to The Guardian, May had always wished to be Britain’s first Prime Minister and was quite miffed when Margaret Thatcher beat her to it!
Although Britain may have experienced a brief stint of identity crisis in the period following its famous ‘Brexit’, with Cameron resigning and the economy fluctuating, Theresa May seems to be the woman for the job — an efficient task manager, perfectionist, and determined leader. Her position as the second woman in history to hold the office of Britain’s Prime Minister goes to show the extraordinary role that women are occupying in the world of international politics, and is an inspiration for women everywhere, proving that no dream is too small or impossible if you decide to wake up and go for it. As for Theresa May, we wish her good luck as she goes forth to establish her legacy and make her mark on the world.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)