The UK has been in a state of political turmoil since the referendum on the country’s future in the European Union. Former Prime Minister David Cameron, who wanted UK to stay in the EU, resigned last month after the British voted for Brexit. Theresa May, Home Secretary and one of the most senior members of the Conservative Party, was immediately seen as the favourite to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister. Theresa May, 59, announced her candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party and soon emerged as the frontrunner. She is set to become UK’s conservative party head and the next PM today after Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the contest on July 11. Ironically, Theresa May had also campaigned to get Britain to stay back in EU, but has now promised to work towards a smooth exit from the union.
More women are expected to be part of her cabinet, maybe a gender equal team. Key roles are expected for Amber Rudd, the Energy Secretary, and Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary.
During Theresa May’s long stint as home secretary, she had worked proactively to expand the country’s law-enforcement surveillance capabilities. She has also been vocal about the need for tighter immigration restrictions, which had won her several detractors. It remains to be seen, if she will continue on that stance once she takes over.
However, she has been primarily admired for her steady performance and seen as a reliable leader who can keep a cool head in tough times.
Daughter of a clergyman, Theresa May has a decidedly Wodehousian childhood growing up in Oxfordshire and working part-time at a bakery during her school days.
She worked at the Bank of England in the late ‘70s, and much of the ‘80s and ‘90s saw her as a financial consultant and senior advisor in International Affairs.
On a lighter note, 10 Downing Street will see a ‘first gentleman’ after several decades. Theresa May met her husband, Philip May, an investment banker, in 1976 while they were studying at Oxford University. It is said that they were introduced by Benazir Bhutto (former Prime Minister of Pakistan) who was also a student at the university.
Theresa May is said to indulge in a spot of cooking in her free time. She is also impeccably dressed and her tastes in fashion, like leopard print heels, are decidedly wild (pun intended) for a conservative party member.
Politics can get dirty and personal even among the British, known for their abhorrence for drama. Andrea Leadsom was widely criticised for implying that she was better qualified to lead the nation since she was a mother, unlike Theresa May, and thereby had more of a stake in the country’s future. Theresa May though refused to be provoked and seems focussed on the job at hand.
With the global spotlight on her, Theresa May has her work cut out ahead. As the prime minister, she will be required to negotiate an unprecedented series of trade conflicts, immigration policies and legislative business with the EU’s remaining 27 members and other countries. She will also have to set in motion Britain’s exit from the bloc, not an easy task, but she seems to be the best woman for the job.