Theresa Mary May (/təˈriːzə/; née Brasier; born 1 October 1956) is a British politician serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party since 2016. She served as Home Secretary from 2010 to 2016. May was first elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Maidenhead in 1997. Ideologically, she identifies herself as a one-nation conservative.
May grew up in Oxfordshire and attended St Hugh's College, Oxford. After graduating in 1977, she worked for the Bank of England. She also served as a councillor for Durnsford in Merton. After unsuccessful attempts to be elected to the House of Commons she was elected as the MP for Maidenhead in the 1997 general election. From 1999 to 2010, May held a number of roles in Shadow Cabinets. She was also Chairwoman of the Conservative Party from 2002 to 2003.
When the coalition government was formed after the 2010 general election, May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, but gave up the latter role in 2012. She continued to serve as home secretary after the Conservative victory in the 2015 general election, and became the longest-serving home secretary in over 60 years. During her tenure she pursued reform of the Police Federation, implemented a harder line on drugs policy including the banning of khat, oversaw the introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners, the deportation of Abu Qatada, and the creation of the National Crime Agency, and brought in additional restrictions on immigration.
In July 2016, after David Cameron resigned, May was elected as Conservative Party Leader, becoming Britain's second female Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher. As Prime Minister, May began the process of withdrawing the UK from the European Union, triggering Article 50 in March 2017. The following month, she announced a snap general election, with the aim of strengthening her hand in Brexit negotiations. This resulted in a hung parliament, in which the number of Conservative seats fell from 330 to 317, despite the party winning their highest vote share since 1983. The loss of an overall majority prompted her to enter a confidence and supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to support a minority government.
May survived a vote of no confidence from her own MPs in December 2018 and a Parliamentary vote of no confidence in January 2019. May has said that she will not lead her party in the next general election scheduled for 2022 under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, but has not ruled out leading it into a snap election. May carried out the Brexit negotiations with the European Union, adhering to the Chequers Agreement, which resulted in the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU. This agreement was defeated by Parliament in January 2019, and negotiations continue to try and reach a deal. May’s revised deal was defeated in Parliament by 391 votes to 242.
|Prime Minister of the United Kingdom|
|Assumed office |
13 July 2016
|Preceded by||David Cameron|
|Leader of the Conservative Party|
|Assumed office |
11 July 2016
|Chairman||Sir Patrick McLoughlin|
|Preceded by||David Cameron|
|Member of Parliament|
|Assumed office |
1 May 1997
|Preceded by||Constituency created|
|14th Commonwealth Chair-in-Office|
|Assumed office |
19 April 2018
|Preceded by||Joseph Muscat|
12 May 2010 – 13 July 2016
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Alan Johnson|
|Succeeded by||Amber Rudd|
|Minister for Women and Equalities|
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Harriet Harman|
|Succeeded by||Maria Miller|
|Chairwoman of the Conservative Party|
23 July 2002 – 6 November 2003
|Leader||Iain Duncan Smith|
|Preceded by||David Davis|
|Succeeded by||Liam Fox|
The Lord Saatchi
Theresa Mary Brasier
1 October 1956
Eastbourne, Sussex, England
Philip May (m. 1980)
|Residence||10 Downing Street (official)|
|Alma mater||St Hugh's College, Oxford|
Born on 1 October 1956 in Eastbourne, Sussex, May is the only child of Zaidee Mary (née Barnes; 1928–1982) and Hubert Brasier (1917–1981). Her father was a Church of England clergyman (and an Anglo-Catholic) who was chaplain of an Eastbourne hospital. He later became vicar of Enstone with Heythrop and finally of St Mary's at Wheatley, to the east of Oxford. May's mother was a supporter of the Conservative Party.
She initially attended Heythrop Primary School, a state school in Heythrop, followed by St. Juliana's Convent School for Girls, a Roman Catholic independent school in Begbroke, which closed in 1984.
When she was 13, May won a place at the former Holton Park Girls' Grammar School, a state school in Wheatley. During her time as a pupil, the Oxfordshire education system was reorganised and the school became the new Wheatley Park Comprehensive School. May later attended the University of Oxford where she read geography at St Hugh's College, graduating with a second class BA degree in 1977.
Between 1977 and 1983 May worked at the Bank of England, and from 1985 to 1997 as a financial consultant and senior advisor in International Affairs at the Association for Payment Clearing Services. She married Philip May in September 1980. Her father died in a car accident in 1981 and her mother of multiple sclerosis the following year. May later stated she was "sorry they [her parents] never saw me elected as a Member of Parliament".
May served as a councillor for Durnsford ward on the London Borough of Merton from 1986 to 1994, where she was Chairman of Education (1988–90) and Deputy Group Leader and Housing Spokesman (1992–94). In the 1992 general election May stood unsuccessfully for the safe Labour seat of North West Durham, coming second to incumbent MP Hilary Armstrong by 12,747 votes (27.6%) to 26,734 (57.8%), with future Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron coming third. May then stood at the 1994 Barking by-election, which was prompted by the death of Labour MP Jo Richardson. The seat had been continuously held by Labour since it was created in 1945 and Labour candidate Margaret Hodge was expected to win easily, which she did, with 13,704 votes (72.1%). May came a distant third with 1,976 votes (10.4%). Ahead of the 1997 general election, May was selected as the Conservative candidate for Maidenhead, a new seat which was created from parts of the seats of Windsor and Maidenhead and Wokingham. She was elected with 25,344 votes (49.8%), almost double the total of second-placed Andrew Terence Ketteringham of the Liberal Democrats, who took 13,363 votes (26.3%).
Having entered Parliament, May became a member of William Hague's front-bench Opposition team, as Shadow Spokesman for Schools, Disabled People and Women (1998–1999). She became the first of the 1997 MPs to enter the Shadow Cabinet when in 1999 she was appointed Shadow Education and Employment Secretary. After the 2001 election the new Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith kept her in the Shadow Cabinet, moving her to the Transport portfolio.
May was appointed the first female Chairman of the Conservative Party in July 2002. During her speech at the 2002 Conservative Party Conference, she explained why, in her view, her party must change: "You know what people call us? The Nasty Party". In 2003, she was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Transport after Michael Howard's election as Conservative Party and Opposition Leader in November that year.
In June 2004, she was moved to become Shadow Secretary of State for the Family. Following the 2005 general election she was also made Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. David Cameron appointed her Shadow Leader of the House of Commons in December 2005 after his accession to the leadership. In January 2009, May was made Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
On 6 May 2010, May was re-elected MP for Maidenhead with an increased majority of 16,769 – 60% of the vote. This followed an earlier failed attempt to unseat her in 2005 as one of the Liberal Democrats' leading "decapitation-strategy" targets.
On 12 May 2010, when May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality by Prime Minister David Cameron as part of his first Cabinet, she became the fourth woman to hold one of the British Great Offices of State, after Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister), Margaret Beckett (Foreign Secretary) and Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary). As Home Secretary, May was also a member of the National Security Council. She was the longest-serving Home Secretary for over 60 years, since James Chuter Ede who served over six years and two months from August 1945 to October 1951. May's appointment as Home Secretary was somewhat unexpected, with Chris Grayling having served as shadow Home Secretary in opposition.
May's debut as Home Secretary involved overturning several of the previous Labour government's measures on data collection and surveillance in England and Wales. By way of a government bill which became the Identity Documents Act 2010, she brought about the abolition of the Labour government's National Identity Card and database scheme and reformed the regulations on the retention of DNA samples for suspects and controls on the use of CCTV cameras. In May 2010, May announced the adjournment of the deportation to the United States of alleged computer hacker Gary McKinnon. She also suspended the registration scheme for carers of children and vulnerable people, with May saying that the measures were "draconian. You were assumed to be guilty until you were proven innocent, and told you were able to work with children." On 4 August 2010, it was reported that May was scrapping the former Labour government's proposed "go orders" scheme to protect women from domestic violence by banning abusers from the victim's home.
In June 2010, May faced her first major national security incident as Home Secretary with the Cumbria shootings. She delivered her first major speech in the House of Commons as Home Secretary in a statement on this incident, later visiting the victims with the Prime Minister. Also in June 2010, May banned the Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik from entering the United Kingdom.
According to The Daily Telegraph, a Home Office official who disagreed with this decision was suspended. In late June 2010, May announced plans for a temporary cap on UK visas for non-EU migrants. The move raised concerns about the impact on the British economy.
In August 2013, May supported the detention of David Miranda, partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, under the Terrorism Act 2000, saying that critics of the Metropolitan Police action needed to "think about what they are condoning". Lib Dem peer and former Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald accused May of an "ugly and unhelpful" attempt to implicate those who were concerned about the police action of "condoning terrorism". The High Court subsequently acknowledged there were "indirect implications for press freedom" but ruled the detention legal.
May also championed legislation popularly dubbed the Snooper's Charter, requiring internet and mobile service providers to keep records of internet usage, voice calls, messages and email for up to a year in case police requested access to the records while investigating a crime. The Liberal Democrats had blocked the first attempt, but after the Conservative Party obtained a majority in the 2015 general election May announced a new Draft Investigatory Powers Bill similar to the Draft Communications Data Bill, although with more limited powers and additional oversight.
Speaking at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) conference in June 2010, May announced radical cuts to the Home Office budget, likely to lead to a reduction in police numbers. In July 2010, May presented the House of Commons with proposals for a fundamental review of the previous Labour government's security and counter-terrorism legislation, including "stop and search" powers, and her intention to review the 28-day limit on detaining terrorist suspects without charge.
In July 2010, May announced a package of reforms to policing in England and Wales in the House of Commons. The previous Labour Government's central crime agency, Soca (Serious Organised Crime Agency), was to be replaced by a new National Crime Agency. In common with the Conservative Party 2010 general election manifesto's flagship proposal for a "Big Society" based on voluntary action, May also proposed increasing the role of civilian "reservists" for crime control. The reforms were rejected by the Opposition Labour Party.
Following the actions of some members of Black Bloc in vandalising allegedly tax-avoiding shops and businesses on the day of the March 2011 TUC march, the Home Secretary unveiled reforms curbing the right to protest, including giving police extra powers to remove masked individuals and to police social networking sites to prevent illegal protest without police consent or notification.
In 2012, despite inquiries by both Scotland Yard and the Independent Police Complaints Commission ruling that there was no new evidence to warrant further investigation, after discussions with Dame Doreen Lawrence, May commissioned Mark Ellison to review Scotland Yard's investigations into alleged police corruption. The report was presented to Parliament by May on 6 March 2014. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said the report, which has prompted an inquiry into undercover policing, was "devastating".
In July 2013, May welcomed the fact that crime had fallen by more than 10% under the coalition government, while still being able to make savings. She said that this was partly due to the government removing red tape and scrapping targets to allow the police to concentrate on crime fighting.
When you remember the list of recent revelations about police misconduct, it is not enough to mouth platitudes about "a few bad apples". The problem might lie with a minority of officers, but it is still a significant problem, and a problem that needs to be addressed ... according to one survey carried out recently, only 42% of black people from a Caribbean background trust the police. That is simply not sustainable ... I will soon publish proposals to strengthen the protections available to whistleblowers in the police. I am creating a new criminal offence of police corruption. And I am determined that the use of stop and search must come down, become more targeted and lead to more arrests.
On 9 December 2010, in the wake of violent student demonstrations in central London against increases to higher-education tuition fees, May praised the actions of the police in controlling the demonstrations but was described by The Daily Telegraph as "under growing political pressure" due to her handling of the protests.
In December 2010, May declared that deployment of water cannon by police forces in mainland Britain was an operational decision which had been "resisted until now by senior police officers." She rejected their use following the widespread rioting in summer 2011 and said: "the way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon. The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities." May said: "I condemn utterly the violence in Tottenham... Such disregard for public safety and property will not be tolerated, and the Metropolitan Police have my full support in restoring order."
In the aftermath of the riots May urged the identification of as many as possible of the young criminals involved. She said: "when I was in Manchester last week, the issue was raised to me about the anonymity of juveniles who are found guilty of crimes of this sort. The Crown Prosecution Service is to order prosecutors to apply for anonymity to be lifted in any youth case they think is in the public interest. The law currently protects the identity of any suspect under the age of 18, even if they are convicted, but it also allows for an application to have such restrictions lifted, if deemed appropriate." May added that "what I've asked for is that CPS guidance should go to prosecutors to say that where possible, they should be asking for the anonymity of juveniles who are found guilty of criminal activity to be lifted".
In July 2010, May proposed to review the previous Labour Government's anti-social behaviour legislation signalling the abolition of the "Anti-Social Behaviour Order" (ASBO). She identified the policy's high level of failure with almost half of ASBOs breached between 2000 and 2008, leading to "fast-track" criminal convictions. May proposed a less punitive, community-based approach to tackling social disorder. May suggested that anti-social behaviour policy "must be turned on its head", reversing the ASBO's role as the flagship crime control policy legislation under Labour. Former Labour Home Secretaries David Blunkett (who introduced ASBOs) and Alan Johnson expressed their disapproval of the proposals.
In July 2013, May decided to ban the stimulant khat, against the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). The council reached the conclusion that there was "insufficient evidence" it caused health problems. Explaining the change in the classification May said: "The decision to bring khat under control is finely balanced and takes into account the expert scientific advice and these broader concerns", and pointed out that the product had already been banned in the majority of other EU member states, as well as most of the G8 countries including Canada and the US. A report on khat use by the ACMD published in January 2013 had noted the product had been associated with "acute psychotic episodes", "chronic liver disease" and family breakdown. However, it concluded that there is no risk of harm for most users, and recommended that khat remain uncontrolled due to lack of evidence for these associations.
Liberal Democrat minister Norman Baker accused May of suppressing proposals to treat rather than prosecute minor drug offenders from a report into drug policy commissioned by the Home Office. The Home Office denied that its officials had considered this as part of their strategy. Baker cited difficulties in working with May as the reason for his resignation from the Home Office in the run-up to the 2015 general election.
In 2010, May promised to bring the level of net migration down to less than 100,000. The Independent reported in February 2015, "The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced a net flow of 298,000 migrants to the UK in the 12 months to September 2014—up from 210,000 in the previous year." In total, 624,000 people migrated to the UK in the year ending September 2014 and 327,000 left in the same period. Statistics showed "significant increases in migration among both non-EU citizens—up 49,000 to 292,000—and EU citizens, which rose by 43,000 to 251,000."
May rejected the European Union's proposal of compulsory refugee quotas. She said that it was important to help people living in war-zone regions and refugee camps but "not the ones who are strong and rich enough to come to Europe". In May 2016, The Daily Telegraph reported that she had tried to save £4m by rejecting an intelligence project to use aircraft surveillance to detect illegal immigrant boats.
In June 2012, Theresa May announced that new restrictions would be introduced to reduce the number of non-European Economic Area family migrants. The changes were mostly intended to apply to new applicants after 9 July 2012.
The newly introduced rules came into effect on 9 July 2012 allowing only those British citizens earning more than £18,600 to bring their spouses or their children to live with them in the UK. This figure would rise significantly in cases where visa applications are also made for children. They also increased the current two-year probationary period for partners to 5 years. The rules also prevent any adult and elderly dependents from settling in the UK unless they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK.
The House of Lords was concerned about the immigration issue and therefore addressed the PM in Parliament as to whether she had examined the impact on communities and families on modest incomes, but it received no direct response. The human rights group Liberty concluded that the new rules showed scant regard to the impact they would have on genuine families. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration conducted an evidence based inquiry into the impact of the rules and concluded in their report that the rules were causing very young children to be separated from their parents and could exile British citizens from the UK.
At the Conservative Party Conference in October 2011, while arguing that the Human Rights Act needed to be amended, May gave the example of a foreign national who the Courts ruled was allowed to remain in the UK, "because—and I am not making this up—he had a pet cat". In response, the Royal Courts of Justice issued a statement, denying that this was the reason for the tribunal's decision in that case, and stating that the real reason was that he was in a genuine relationship with a British partner, and owning a pet cat was simply one of many pieces of evidence given to show that the relationship was "genuine". The Home Office had failed to apply its own rules for dealing with unmarried partners of people settled in the UK. Amnesty International said May's comments only fuelled "myths and misconceptions" about the Human Rights Act and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke subsequently called May's comments "laughable and childlike."
In June 2012, May was found in contempt of court by Judge Barry Cotter, and stood accused of "totally unacceptable and regrettable behaviour", being said to have shown complete disregard for a legal agreement to free an Algerian from a UK Immigration Detention Centre. As she eventually allowed the prisoner to be freed, May avoided further sanctions including fines or imprisonment.
May responded to a Supreme Court decision in November 2013 to overturn her predecessor Jacqui Smith's revocation of Iraqi-born terror suspect Al Jedda's British citizenship by ordering it to be revoked for a second time, making him the first person to be stripped twice of British citizenship.
May was accused by Lord Roberts of being willing to allow someone to die "to score a political point" over the deportation of mentally ill Nigerian man Isa Muazu. According to Muazu's solicitor, May had arranged for the asylum seeker, who was said to be "near death" after a 100-day hunger strike, to be deported by a chartered private jet. To strengthen the Home Office's tough stance an "end of life" plan was reportedly offered to Muazu, who was one of a number of hunger strikers at the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre.
On 7 July 2013, Abu Qatada, a radical cleric arrested in 2002, was deported to Jordan after a decade-long battle that had cost the nation £1.7 million in legal fees, and several prior Home Secretaries had not resolved. The deportation was the result of a treaty negotiated by May in April 2013, under which Jordan agreed to give Qatada a fair trial, by not using evidence that may have been obtained through torture against him.
May pointed to Qatada's deportation as a triumph, guaranteeing in September 2013 that "he will not be returning to the UK", and declaring in her 2016 leadership campaign announcement that she was told that she "couldn't deport Abu Qatada" but that she "flew to Jordan and negotiated the treaty that got him out of Britain for good". The Qatada deportation also shaped May's views on the European Convention on Human Rights and European Court of Human Rights, saying that they had "moved the goalposts" and had a "crazy interpretation of our human rights laws", as a result, May has since campaigned against the institutions, saying that British withdrawal from them should be considered.
|Image of the "Go Home" advert vans. From The Independent, Credit: Home Office/PA.|
In August 2013, the Home Office engaged in an advertising campaign directed at illegal immigrants. The advertisements, in the form of mobile advertising hoardings on the back of lorries, told illegal immigrants to "go home or face arrest", with an image of a person in handcuffs, and were deployed in six London boroughs with substantial ethnic minority populations. They were widely criticized as creating a hostile atmosphere for members of ethnic minority groups. The shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, described their language as being reminiscent of that used by the National Front in the 1970s. An adjudication by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said that "the claim [that 106 arrests were made last week] was misleading and had not been substantiated" was followed by the advertisements being withdrawn after being banned by the ASA.
In mid 2014, the Passport Office faced a backlog in developing processing passport applications, with around 30,000 applications hit by delays. David Cameron suggested this had come about due to the Passport Office's receiving an "above normal" 300,000-rise in applications. It was revealed, however, that May had been warned the year before, in July 2013, that a surge of 350,000 extra applications could occur owing to the closure of processing overseas under Chancellor Osborne's programme of cuts. Around £674,000 was paid to staff who helped clear the backlog.
In April 2018, May's hostile environment policy became the focus of British politics in what came to be known as the Windrush scandal, in which members of the Windrush generation of Afro-Caribbean Britons were threatened with deportation by the Home Office and in at least 83 cases, wrongly deported from the UK. The scandal led to the removal of May's successor Amber Rudd as Home Secretary, and her replacement by Sajid Javid. Responding to questions in Parliament on the Windrush scandal on 25 April, May maintained that the hostile environment policy would remain government policy.
In June 2014, an inflamed public argument arose between Home Office and Education Ministers about responsibility for alleged extremism in Birmingham schools. Prime Minister David Cameron intervened to resolve the row, insisting that May sack her Special Advisor Fiona Cunningham (now Hill) for releasing on May's website a confidential letter to May's colleagues, and that Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, apologise to the Home Office's head of Security and Counter-Terrorism, Charles Farr, for uncomplimentary briefings of him appearing on the front page of The Times.
May's appointment as Minister for Women and Equality was criticised by some members of the LGBT rights movement, because she had voted against lowering the age of consent (in 1998) and against greater adoption rights for homosexuals (in 2002), though she had voted in favour of civil partnerships. May later stated, during an appearance on the BBC's Question Time in 2010, that she had "changed her mind" on gay adoption. Writing for PinkNews in June 2010, May clarified her proposals for improving LGBT rights including measures to tackle homophobia in sport, advocating British society's need for "cultural change".
On 2 July 2010, May stated she would be supporting the previous Labour Government's Anti-Discrimination Laws enshrined in the Equality Act 2010 despite having opposed it before. The Equality Act came into effect in England, Wales and Scotland on 1 October 2010. She did however announce that a clause she dubbed "Harman's Law" which would have required public bodies to consider how they can reduce socio-economic inequalities when making decisions about spending and services would be scrapped on the grounds that it was "unworkable".
On 30 June 2016, May announced her candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party to replace David Cameron, who resigned following the outcome of the European Union membership referendum in which 52% of voters voted in favour of leaving the EU. May emphasised the need for unity within the party regardless of positions on leaving the EU, saying she could bring "strong leadership" and a "positive vision" for the country's future. Despite having backed a vote to remain in the EU, she insisted that there would be no second referendum, saying: "The campaign was fought... and the public gave their verdict. There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door... Brexit means Brexit". An opinion poll that day found 47% of people choosing May as their preferred candidate to be Prime Minister.
May's supporters included a number of Cabinet ministers, such as Amber Rudd, Chris Grayling, Justine Greening, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Fallon and Patrick McLoughlin. She won the first round of voting on 5 July, receiving support from 165 MPs, with rivals Andrea Leadsom receiving 66 votes and Michael Gove 48. After the results were announced, May said she was "pleased" and "grateful" for the support of other MPs and confirmed that she wanted to unite the party and the UK, to negotiate the "best possible deal as we leave the EU", and to "make Britain work for everyone". The two candidates with the fewest votes, Liam Fox and Stephen Crabb, immediately announced their support for May. May came in first place in the second ballot on 7 July with an overwhelming majority of 199 MPs, compared with 84 for Leadsom and 46 for Gove, who was eliminated. Afterwards, May stated that she was delighted with her support among MPs, and she progressed to a vote of the Conservative Party membership against Leadsom.
On 11 July, Leadsom announced her withdrawal from the leadership contest hours after May had made her first official campaign speech, saying her lack of support amongst Conservative MPs compared to May would be too great a hindrance to becoming a credible Prime Minister. As the sole remaining candidate, May was formally declared Leader of the Conservative Party that evening.
On 13 July 2016, two days after becoming Leader of the Conservative Party, May was appointed Prime Minister by Queen Elizabeth II, becoming only the second female British Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher. Addressing the world's media outside 10 Downing Street, May said that she was "honoured and humbled" to become Prime Minister. On becoming Prime Minister, May became the first woman to have held two of the Great Offices of State.
Responding to some calls for an early general election, "sources close to Mrs May" said there was no need for such an election. In a speech after her appointment, May emphasised the term "Unionist" in the name of the Conservative Party, reminding all of "the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland." By 15 July, May had travelled to Edinburgh to meet with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to reinforce the bond between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. "I'm coming here to show my commitment to preserving this special union that has endured for centuries," she explained.
May's first Cabinet appointment was described by Reuters as "one of the most sweeping government reshuffles for decades", and called "a brutal cull" by The Daily Telegraph. Nine of Cameron's ministers, including several prominent members, were sacked or resigned from their posts. The early appointments were interpreted both as an effort to reunite the Conservative Party in the wake of the UK's vote to leave the EU and as "a shift to the right," according to The Guardian. ITV's Political Editor Robert Peston commented: "Her rhetoric is more left-wing than Cameron's was, her cabinet is more right-wing than his was." Although May had supported remaining in the EU, she appointed several of the most prominent advocates of Brexit to key Cabinet positions responsible for negotiating the United Kingdom withdrawal from the European Union, including Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, David Davis as Brexit Secretary, and Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary, the latter two being new positions. Other key appointees included Amber Rudd as Home Secretary and Philip Hammond as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The First May ministry delayed the final approval for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in July 2016, a project which May had objected to when she was Home Secretary. Her political adviser Nick Timothy wrote an article in 2015 to oppose China's involvement in sensitive sectors. He said that the government was "selling our national security to China" without rational concerns and "the Government seems intent on ignoring the evidence and presumably the advice of the security and intelligence agencies".
In July 2016, when George Kerevan asked her whether she would be prepared to authorise the killing of a hundred thousand innocent persons by a nuclear strike; during the "Trident debate" inside the House of Commons, May said "Yes. And I have to say to the honourable gentleman: the whole point of a deterrent is that our enemies need to know that we would be prepared to use it. Unlike some suggestions that we could have a nuclear deterrent but not actually be willing to use it, which come from the Labour Party frontbench."
On 20 July, May attended her first Prime Minister's Questions since taking office, then afterwards made her first overseas trip as prime minister, visiting Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During the visit, May said that she would not trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon—the process for withdrawing from the European Union—before 2017, suggesting it would take time for the UK to negotiate a "sensible and orderly departure" from the EU. However, although Merkel said it was right for the UK to "take a moment" before beginning the process, she urged May to provide more clarity on a timetable for negotiations. Shortly before travelling to Berlin, May had also announced that in the wake of the referendum, Britain would relinquish the presidency of the Council of the European Union, which passes between member states every six months on a rotation basis, and that the UK had been scheduled to hold in the second half of 2017.
May supported the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen and defended selling arms to Saudi Arabia, which is accused of committing war crimes in Yemen, insisting that Britain's close relationship with Saudi Arabia was "helping keep people on the streets of Britain safe".
On 21 January 2017, following the inauguration of Donald Trump as US President, the White House announced that May would meet the President on 27 January, making her the first foreign leader to meet Trump since he took office on 20 January. In a joint press conference, May indicated an interest in increased trade between the United States and the United Kingdom. She also affirmed a desire to maintain an American involvement in NATO. May was criticised by members of major parties, including her own, for refusing to condemn Trump's Executive Order 13769, as well as for inviting Trump to a state visit with Queen Elizabeth II.
In May's and Hammond's 2017 budget continued government policies of freezing benefits.
On 18 April, May announced that she would call a parliamentary vote to hold an early general election on 8 June, saying that it was the "only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead". May had previously ruled out an early election on five occasions over nine months. The election was the first snap election held under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 after MPs gave May the two-thirds super-majority required.
Unveiling the Conservative manifesto in Halifax on 18 May, May promised a "mainstream government that would deliver for mainstream Britain". It proposed to balance the budget by 2025, raise spending on the NHS by £8bn per annum and on schools by £4bn per annum by 2022, remove the ban on new grammar schools, means-test the winter fuel allowance, replace the state pension "triple lock" with a "double lock" and require executive pay to be approved by a vote of shareholders. It dropped the 2015 pledge to not raise income tax or national insurance contributions but maintained a commitment to freeze VAT. New sovereign wealth funds for infrastructure, rules to prevent foreign takeovers of "critical national infrastructure" and institutes of technology were also proposed. The manifesto was noted for its intervention in industry, lack of tax cuts and increased spending commitments on public services. On Brexit it committed to leaving the single market and customs union while seeking a "deep and special partnership" and promised a vote in parliament on the final agreement.
The manifesto also proposed reforms to social care in England that would raise the threshold for free care from £23,250 to £100,000 while including property in the means test and permitting deferred payment after death. After attracting substantial media attention, four days after the manifesto launch May stated that the proposed social care reforms would now include an "absolute limit" on costs in contrast to the rejection of a cap in the manifesto. She criticised the "fake" portrayal of the policy in recent days by Labour and other critics who had termed it a "dementia tax". Evening Standard editor George Osborne called the policy change a "U-turn". The Financial Times contrasted her "Strong and Stable" leadership slogan with her own record of nine rapid U-turns claiming she was "making a habit of retreating from policies."
The general election in June resulted in a hung parliament, prompting her to broker a deal with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), involving £1 billion of additional public funding for Northern Ireland.
Less than two weeks after the 2017 State Opening of Parliament, May ordered a full public inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal. For this she was widely praised as successive governments going back to the 1980s had refused such an inquiry, some though speculated that May had simply been forced to announce the inquiry after a group legal action and news of fresh evidence were brought by Jason Evans. Additionally, Andy Burnham had threatened to take evidence to the police if an inquiry were not announced. With over 1,000 core participants, the Infected Blood Inquiry is the biggest public inquiry ever held in the UK.
In November 2017, May said the actions of Myanmar Army and police against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar "looks like ethnic cleansing". According to May, "it is something for which the Burmese authorities – and especially the military – must take full responsibility." From the 2017 general election to December 2017, May suffered no defeats in whipped votes in the House of Commons. On 13 December 2017, May lost a vote on the EU Withdrawal Bill by 309 votes to 305, due to 11 Conservatives voting against the government, including Stephen Hammond who was then Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party.
May accused Russia of "threatening the international order", "seeking to weaponise information" and "deploying its state-run media organisations to plant fake stories". She mentioned Russia's meddling in German federal election in 2017, after German government officials and security experts said there was no Russian interference.
May promised to confront China on human rights but was praised in Communist Party-controlled media for "sidestepping" human rights in China during her first official visit to the country. The Global Times said: "For the Prime Minister, the losses outweigh the gains if she appeases the British media at the cost of the visit’s friendly atmosphere."
In May 2018, during a three-day state visit to the UK by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, May declared that Britain is a "true friend" of Turkey, but she added that "It is important that in defense of democracy, which has been facing extraordinary pressures from the failed coup, instability across the border from Syria and from Kurdish terrorism, Turkey does not lose sight of the values it is seeking to defend."
Allegations of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party have been made throughout the 21st century, and has increased under the premierships of May and her predecessor David Cameron . Allegations have been made against senior politicians, including: Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Zac Goldsmith.
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, former co-chair of the Conservative Party, said in 2018 that anti-Muslim prejudice had "poisoned" the party. Warsi called on May, as the leader of the Conservative Party, to condemn it, arguing she had spent over two years trying but failing to get successive party leaders to address the problem of Islamophobia. Numerous Muslim party members, speaking to the media anonymously for fear of a backlash, welcomed Warsi's comments, saying they felt the issue had been marginalised within the party.
In 2018, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) issued numerous calls for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the party. These calls have been backed by Baroness Warsi, Baron Mohamed Sheikh and Mohammed Amin of the Conservative Muslim Forum, 350 mosques and 11 umbrella organisations across the UK, and former Chancellor George Osborne.
On 4 December 2018, on a motion passed by MPs by 311 to 293 votes, the May Government was found in contempt of Parliament; the first government to be found in contempt in history. The vote was triggered by the government failing to lay before Parliament any legal advice on the proposed withdrawal agreement on the terms of the UK's departure from the European Union, after a humble address for a return was unanimously agreed to by the House of Commons on 13 November 2018. The government then agreed to publish the full legal advice  for Brexit that was given to the Prime Minister by the Attorney General during negotiations with the European Union.
On 12 December 2018, May faced a vote of no confidence in her leadership over opposition to her negotiated Brexit deal from the Conservative Party, after the number of Conservative MPs exceeded the 48 no-confidence letter threshold that the 1922 Committee Chairman, Sir Graham Brady required for one to be held. May won the vote with 200 Conservative MPs voting for her, compared to 117 voting against. As part of her speech to the Parliamentary Conservative Party before the no-confidence vote was opened, it was reported that May conceded that she would step down as Prime Minister after delivering Brexit and would not lead the Conservative Party into the next General Election in exchange for Conservative MP's voting to have confidence in her leadership so that she would be able to keep the party, Parliament and the UK stable during the final stages of Brexit. May later confirmed this to BBC News Political editor, Laura Kuenssberg after meeting EU leaders, including Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels.
On 17 December 2018 in the House of Commons, the Leader of the Opposition and Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, tabled a motion of no confidence in May's Prime Ministership, citing May's refusal to set the date for the meaningful vote on her Brexit deal before Christmas, and instead pushing it back to mid-January. The following day the government refused to allow time for the motion to be debated. John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, confirmed that they were under no obligation to do so. Following the defeat of May's Brexit deal on 15 January 2019, Corbyn tabled a motion of no confidence in the Government, to be voted on by parliament the following evening. The motion was defeated by 325 votes to 306; a majority of 19.
On 15 January 2019, May's government was defeated in the House of Commons by a margin of 230 votes (202 in favour and 432 opposed) in a vote on her deal to leave the European Union. It was the largest majority against a United Kingdom government in history.
On 14 February the same year, May suffered another Commons defeat after MPs voted by 303 to 258 - a majority of 45 - against a motion endorsing the government's Brexit negotiating strategy.
On 12 March, May was again defeated in the Commons by 149 votes (242 in favour and 391 against) on her latest deal after she secured last-minute concessions from the EU.
May had a high approval rating during her first week as Prime Minister. The results of an Ipsos MORI survey released in July 2016 indicated that 55% of those surveyed believed that May was a suitable PM while only 23% believed that the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would make a good Prime Minister.
A ComRes poll taken in September 2016 after her election suggested May was seen as substantially more "in touch with ordinary British people" than her predecessor David Cameron and a majority of voters saw her as "the right person to unite the country".
At the beginning of 2017, nearly six months after becoming Prime Minister, a ComRes found May was the most popular UK politician with a net rating of +9 which was described as the longest honeymoon period enjoyed by any sitting Conservative Prime Minister since the end of the Second World War.
The Conservative Party had a 21-point lead over Labour in a poll released the day before May announced a snap election but this lead narrowed substantially. In mid-June, following the election, a YouGov poll showed that May's popularity had dropped to a rating of −34. In April 2018, May had a higher approval rating than Corbyn for the first time since the general election, leading him by −13 to −23.
Since coming into prominence as a front-bench politician, May's public image has divided media opinion, especially from some in the traditionalist right-wing press. Commenting on May's debut as Home Secretary, Anne Perkins of The Guardian observed that "she'll be nobody's stooge", while Cristina Odone of The Daily Telegraph predicted her to be "the rising star" of the Coalition Government. Allegra Stratton, then with The Guardian, praised May as showing managerial acumen.
Describing her as a liberal Conservative, the Financial Times characterised May as a "non-ideological politician with a ruthless streak who gets on with the job", in doing so comparing her to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Conversely, in The Independent, Rebecca Glover of the Policy Innovation Research Unit contrasted May to Boris Johnson, claiming that she was "staunchly more conservative, more anti-immigration, and more isolationist" than he was.
During her leadership campaign, May said that "We need an economy that works for everyone", pledging to crack down on executive pay by making shareholders' votes binding rather than advisory and to put workers onto company boards (although she later claimed that the last pledge was not to be mandatory), policies that The Guardian describes as going further than the Labour Party's 2015 general election manifesto.
After she became Prime Minister, May's first speech espoused the left, with a promise to combat the "burning injustice" in British society and to create a union "between all of our citizens" and promising to be an advocate for the "ordinary working-class family" and not for the affluent in the UK. "The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives ... When we take the big calls, we’ll think not of the powerful, but you. When we pass new laws we’ll listen not to the mighty, but to you. When it comes to taxes we’ll prioritise not the wealthy but you."
May has described herself as a personal supporter of fox hunting with hounds, saying that foxes' numbers had to be controlled and that hunting them with dogs was the most humane way to do it. The Conservative manifesto for the 2017 election included a pledge to hold a parliamentary vote to repeal the Hunting Act 2004, which prohibits a range of hunting activities.
After the Conservatives' manifesto for the 2017 election was released, some people, including Fraser Nelson of The Spectator, called her a "red Tory", saying that she had moved her party to the left in politics. Politico called her policies "Mayism", saying that Mayism was "a working-class conservatism openly critical of the “cult of individualism” and globalization".
May praised the former Prime Minister Winston Churchill and has a portrait of Churchill on the wall of her study. May's spokesman said: "The prime minister has quoted and referenced Sir Winston Churchill on many occasion and acknowledged him as one of the great prime ministers of the 20th century."
May publicly stated her support for the UK remaining in the EU during the 2016 referendum campaign, but did not campaign extensively in the referendum and criticised aspects of the EU in a speech. It was speculated by political journalists that May had sought to minimise her involvement in the debate to strengthen her position as a future candidate for the Conservative party leadership. Some in David Cameron's ministry likened May to a "submarine" on the issue of Brexit due to her perceived indifference towards the referendum and the EU.
In a leaked recording prior to the Brexit referendum, May said,
I think the economic arguments are clear. I think being part of a 500-million trading bloc is significant for us. I think, as I was saying to you a little earlier, that one of the issues is that a lot of people will invest here in the UK because it is the UK in Europe. If we were not in Europe, I think there would be firms and companies who would be looking to say, do they need to develop a mainland Europe presence rather than a UK presence? So I think there are definite benefits for us in economic terms.
May also said Britain was more secure as part of the EU due to the European arrest warrant and Europe-wide information sharing among other factors. She said, "There are definitely things we can do as members of the European Union that I think keep us more safe".
May's public reticence during the referendum campaign resulted in tensions with David Cameron and his pro-EU team. Following the referendum and her election as party leader, May signalled that she would support full withdrawal from the EU and prioritise immigration controls over remaining within the single market, leading some to contrast this with her earlier remarks on the earlier economic arguments. She later went on to say before the 2017 UK general election that she would be willing to leave the EU without a deal, saying that "no deal is better than a bad deal. We have to be prepared to walk out". The Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, said it was "disappointing that Theresa May lacked the political courage to warn the public as she did a bunch of bankers in private about the devastating economic effects of Brexit. More disappointing is that now she is supposedly in charge, she is blithely ignoring her own warnings and is prepared to inflict an act of monumental self-harm on the UK economy by pulling Britain out of the single market." Phil Wilson for the Open Britain group said, "It's good to know that privately Theresa May thinks what many of us have been saying publicly for a long time, leaving the single market would be bad for businesses and for our economy. Now she is prime minister, Theresa May is in an unrivalled position to act on her previous concerns, starting by putting membership of the single market at the heart of her government's negotiating position."
On 22 September 2017, May officially made public the details of her Brexit proposal during a speech in Florence, urging the European Union to maintain a transitional period of two years after Brexit during which trade terms remain unaltered. During this period, the UK would also continue to honor its budget commitments of about €10 billion per annum, and accept immigration from Europe. Her speech was criticised by leading Eurosceptic Nigel Farage. The European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier welcomed May's proposal as "constructive," but said it also "must be translated into negotiating positions to make meaningful progress."
In late October 2018, the National Audit Office warned her that it was already too late to prepare the necessary Irish border security checks in the event of a No-deal scenario—a weakness that organised crime would be quick to exploit.
On 5 February 2019, May gave a speech to business leaders in Belfast to address Brexit stating the United Kingdom's relationship with Ireland was closer than the 27 other members of the EU. She affirmed the government's “absolute” commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and that Britain would seek to have no hard border in Northern Ireland.
In 1998, May voted against lowering the age of consent for homosexual acts, and was absent for the vote on the repeal of Section 28 in 2003. In May 2012, however, May expressed support for the introduction of same-sex marriage by recording a video for the Out4Marriage campaign, in which she stated "I believe if two people care for each other, if they love each other, if they want to commit to each other... then they should be able to get married and marriage should be for everyone". In May 2013, May voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which legalised same-sex marriage in England and Wales.
May has been married to Philip May, an investment relationship manager currently employed by Capital International, since 6 September 1980. It is widely believed that former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto introduced the two during their time at Oxford. May has expressed regret that she and her husband have not been able to have children. The Mays are passionate walkers, and they regularly spend their holidays hiking in the Swiss Alps. May is also a cricket fan, stating that Geoffrey Boycott was one of her sporting heroes. She also likes cooking, and has said that she owns 100 cookery books. Philip has said that she "is a very good cook".
May is a member of the Church of England and regularly worships at church on Sunday. The daughter of an Anglican priest, the Reverend Hubert Brasier, May has said that her Christian faith "is part of me. It is part of who I am and therefore how I approach things".
May is known for a love of fashion, and in particular of distinctive shoes; she wore leopard-print shoes at her 'Nasty Party' speech in 2002, as well as her final Cabinet meeting as Home Secretary in 2016. On Desert Island Discs in 2014, she chose a subscription to Vogue as her luxury item. However, she has been critical of the media focusing on her fashion instead of her achievements as a politician.
Prior to and since her appointment to Government, May has actively supported a variety of campaigns on policy issues in her constituency and at the national level of politics. She has spoken at the Fawcett Society promoting the cross-party issue of gender equality. May was nominated as one of the Society's Inspiring Women of 2006.
In April 2017, during an official trip to Saudi Arabia, May was appointed to the Order of King Abdulaziz. That September, she was listed by Forbes as the second most powerful woman in the world, behind Angela Merkel.
The other candidates lagged far behind, with Michael Gove on 9%
She added: "I am the only candidate capable of delivering these three things as prime minister, and tonight it is clear that I am also the only one capable of drawing support from the whole of the Conservative Party."
The timing of the handover of power from David Cameron looks set to be after PM's questions on Wednesday.
La Première ministre britannique Theresa May a répété lundi qu'elle était prête à quitter la table des négociations sur le Brexit sans avoir obtenu d'accord avec l'Union européenne si les conditions ne sont pas satisfaisantes pour la Grande-Bretagne.
May said: 'I am a practising member of the Church of England, a vicar's daughter.'
The Home Secretary declared that she was a 'regular communicant' in the Church of England
The 2016 Conservative Party leadership election occurred as a result of David Cameron's resignation as leader following the European Union membership referendum, in which the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU. Cameron, who supported Britain's continued membership of the EU, made his announcement on 24 June, saying that he would step down by October. Theresa May won the contest on 11 July 2016, after the withdrawal of Andrea Leadsom left her as the sole candidate, succeeding Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party.
Conservative MPs had voted initially in a series of ballots to determine which two candidates' names would go forward to a nationwide ballot of Conservative Party members, who would make the final decision. Five Conservative members of Parliament (MPs) put themselves forward as candidates: Justice Secretary Michael Gove, Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, former Defence Secretary Liam Fox, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change Andrea Leadsom, and Home Secretary Theresa May. Former Mayor of London Boris Johnson, seen as the front runner by political analysts, surprised many commentators by choosing not to run after Gove withdrew his backing and announced his own candidacy.
In the first-round ballot, May, gaining the support of half of Conservative MPs, was placed first with Leadsom at second place. Fox was eliminated on the first ballot; Crabb withdrew later that day. Gove was eliminated in the second round of voting. Before the Conservative Party members were due to cast their votes, Leadsom withdrew from the contest on 11 July. May was appointed party leader later that day, and Prime Minister on 13 July. She appointed Johnson, Fox and Leadsom to her Cabinet, respectively as Foreign Secretary, Secretary of State for International Trade, and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
If not for Leadsom's withdrawal, Conservative Party members would have directly elected a new Prime Minister for the very first time.2017 United Kingdom general election
The 2017 United Kingdom general election took place on Thursday 8 June 2017, having been called just under two months earlier by Prime Minister Theresa May on 18 April 2017 after it was discussed in cabinet. Each of the 650 constituencies elected one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons. The governing Conservative Party remained the largest single party in the House of Commons but lost its majority, resulting in the formation of a minority government with a confidence-and-supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland.The Conservative Party (which had governed as a senior coalition partner from 2010 and as a single-party majority government from 2015) was defending a working majority of 17 seats against the Labour Party, the official opposition led by Jeremy Corbyn. Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 a general election had not been due until May 2020, but a call by Prime Minister Theresa May for a snap election was ratified by the necessary two-thirds vote in a 522–13 vote in the House of Commons on 19 April 2017. May said that she hoped to secure a larger majority in order to "strengthen [her] hand" in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.Opinion polls had consistently shown strong leads for the Conservatives over Labour. From a 21-point lead, the Conservatives' lead began to diminish in the final weeks of the campaign. In a surprising result, the Conservative Party made a net loss of 13 seats with 42.4% of the vote (its highest share of the vote since 1983), whilst Labour made a net gain of 30 seats with 40.0% (its highest share since 2001 and the first time the party had gained seats since 1997). This was the closest result between the two major parties since February 1974, and their highest combined vote share since 1970. The Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Liberal Democrats, the third- and fourth-largest parties, both lost vote share; media coverage characterised the election as a return to two-party politics. The SNP, which won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats at the previous general election in 2015, lost 21 seats. The Liberal Democrats made a net gain of four seats. UKIP, the third-largest party in 2015 by number of votes, saw its share of the vote reduced from 12.6% to 1.8% and lost its only seat. Plaid Cymru gained one seat, giving it a total of four seats. The Green Party retained its sole seat, but saw its share of the vote reduced. In Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) won 10 seats, Sinn Féin won seven, and Independent Unionist Sylvia Hermon retained her seat. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) lost all their seats. The Conservatives were narrowly victorious and remained in power as a minority government, having secured a confidence and supply deal with the DUP.Negotiation positions following the UK's invocation of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union in March 2017 to leave the EU were expected to feature significantly in the campaign, but did not. The campaign was interrupted by two major terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, with national security becoming a prominent issue in the final weeks of campaigning.Brexit
Brexit (; a portmanteau of "British" and "exit") is the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU), that was legally scheduled to take place on 29 March 2019 at 11 pm UK time. There is an ongoing debate about leaving with a Withdrawal Agreement that has been ratified by both parties as an international treaty between the UK and EU or leaving with no such treaty. The European Council extended the deadline to 12 April 2019 if the UK fails to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement, or to 22 May 2019 if the UK ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement, when the period for ratifying a Withdrawal Agreement will end unless a further extension is agreed. On 14 March 2019, the House of Commons voted for the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to ask the EU for such an extension of the period allowed for the negotiation. Brexit follows the referendum of 23 June 2016 when 51.9 per cent of voters chose to leave the EU. Withdrawal has been advocated by Eurosceptics, both left-wing and right-wing, while pro-Europeanists, who also span the political spectrum, have advocated continued membership.
The UK joined the European Communities (EC) in 1973 under the Conservative government of Edward Heath, with continued membership endorsed by a referendum in 1975. From the 1990s, opposition to further European integration came mainly from the right, and divisions within the Conservative Party led to rebellion over the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. The growth of the eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the early 2010s and the influence of the People's Pledge campaign have been described as influential factors in bringing about a referendum. The Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron pledged during the campaign for the 2015 UK General Election to hold a new referendum—a promise which he fulfilled in 2016 following the pressure from the Eurosceptic wing of his party. Cameron, who had campaigned to remain, resigned after the result and was succeeded by Theresa May, his former Home Secretary. She called a snap general election less than a year later, but lost her overall majority. Her minority government is supported in key votes by the Democratic Unionist Party.
On 29 March 2017, the Government of the United Kingdom invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. May announced the government's intention not to seek permanent membership of the European single market or the EU customs union after leaving the EU and promised to repeal the European Communities Act of 1972 and incorporate existing European Union law into UK domestic law. Negotiations with the EU officially started in June 2017. In November 2018, the Draft Withdrawal Agreement and Outline Political Declaration, agreed between the UK Government and the EU, was published. The House of Commons voted against the deal by a margin of 432 to 202 (the largest parliamentary defeat in history for a sitting UK government) on 15 January 2019, and again on 12 March with a margin of 391 to 242 against the deal.
The broad consensus among economists is that Brexit will likely reduce the UK's real per capita income in the medium term and long term, and that the Brexit referendum itself had damaged the economy. Studies on effects since the referendum show a reduction in GDP, trade and investment, as well as household losses from increased inflation. Brexit is likely to reduce immigration from European Economic Area (EEA) countries to the UK, and poses challenges for UK higher education and academic research. As of February 2019, the size of the "divorce bill"—the UK's inheritance of existing EU trade agreements—and relations with Ireland and other EU member states remains uncertain. The precise impact on the UK depends on whether the process will be a "hard" or "soft" Brexit.Brexit negotiations
Brexit negotiations are taking place between the United Kingdom and the European Union for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union following the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum on 23 June 2016.
The negotiating period began on 29 March 2017, when the United Kingdom served the withdrawal notice under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union; under the two-year deadline prescribed by Article 50, the period was to end on 29 March 2019.
On 19 June 2017, then-British Brexit Secretary David Davis arrived in Brussels to begin talks with Michel Barnier, the Chief Negotiator appointed by the European Commission. Negotiations on the withdrawal agreement (which includes a transitional period and an outline of the objectives for a future relationship between the UK and the EU) were concluded in November 2018, with the European Union indicating that no further negotiation or changes before the UK legally leaves will be possible. If the withdrawal agreement is ratified by the UK and other EU state governments and comes into force, more negotiations might be needed to address Free Trade Agreement treaties between the European Union and its members (including the UK) for one part and third countries for the other part, and the tariff-rate quota, which might be split or renegotiated.In March 2019, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May and European Union leaders negotiated a two-week delay, moving the deadline from 29 March to 12 April 2019. The delay is intended to allow the Parliament of the United Kingdom to debate the proposed Brexit arrangement.Brexit withdrawal agreement
The Brexit withdrawal agreement (officially: The draft Agreement on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union) is a proposed agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union on how to implement Brexit. Published on 14 November 2018, it was a result of the Brexit negotiations. The agreement was endorsed by the leaders of the 27 remaining EU countries and the UK Government led by Prime Minister Theresa May, but faced opposition in the UK parliament, whose approval was necessary for ratification. On 10 December 2018, May deferred the vote scheduled on 11 December, because she thought it "would be rejected by a significant margin". On 15 January 2019, the House of Commons rejected the withdrawal agreement by a vote of 432 to 202. The Agreement was rejected again on 12 March 2019 by the House of Commons on a vote of 391 to 242.Closely related to the withdrawal agreement is a political declaration on the future relationship between UK and EU, which is still being negotiated.Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, officially the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom. The governing party since 2010, it is the largest in the House of Commons, with 314 Members of Parliament, and also has 249 members of the House of Lords, 18 members of the European Parliament, 31 Members of the Scottish Parliament, 12 members of the Welsh Assembly, eight members of the London Assembly and 9,008 local councillors.The Conservative Party was founded in 1834 from the Tory Party—the Conservatives' colloquial name is "Tories"—and was one of two dominant political parties in the nineteenth century, along with the Liberal Party. Under Benjamin Disraeli it played a preeminent role in politics at the height of the British Empire. In 1912, the Liberal Unionist Party merged with the party to form the Conservative and Unionist Party. In the 1920s, the Labour Party surpassed the Liberals as the Conservatives' main rivals. Conservative Prime Ministers — notably Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher — led governments for 57 years of the twentieth century.
Positioned on the centre-right to right of British politics, the Conservative Party is ideologically conservative. Different factions have dominated the party at different times, including One Nation Conservatives, Thatcherites, and liberal conservatives, while its views and policies have changed throughout its history. The party has generally adopted liberal economic policies—favouring free market economics, limiting state regulation, and pursuing privatisation—although in the past has also supported protectionism. The party is British unionist, opposing both Irish reunification and Welsh and Scottish independence, and historically supported the maintenance of the British Empire. The party includes those with differing views on the European Union, with Eurosceptic and pro-European wings. In foreign policy, it is for a strong national defence.
The Conservatives are a member of the International Democrat Union and the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe and sit with the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) parliamentary group. The Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish, and Gibraltan branche of the party are semi-autonomous. Its support base consists primarily of middle-class voters, especially in rural areas of England, and its domination of British politics throughout the twentieth century has led to it being referred to as one of the most successful political parties in the Western world.Damian Green
Damian Howard Green (born 17 January 1956) is a British politician who has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Ashford since 1997 and was the First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office from 11 June 2017 to 20 December 2017. Green was born in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales and studied PPE at Balliol College, Oxford. Before entering politics, Green worked as a journalist for the BBC, Channel 4 and The Times.
Green entered Parliament in the 1997 election by winning the seat of Ashford in Kent. He served in several shadow ministerial positions, including Transport Secretary and Immigration Minister. Green came to national prominence in November 2008 after being arrested and having his parliamentary office raided by police, although no case was brought.He was the Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice until 14 July 2014. He was appointed as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions by Prime Minister Theresa May in July 2016. Following the June 2017 general election, he was appointed First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office.
After the results of an inquiry into allegations that he sexually harassed a woman and viewed pornography on a work computer were published, it was found that he had breached the ministerial code and he was instructed to resign from the Cabinet.David Lidington
David Roy Lidington (born 30 June 1956) is a British politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Aylesbury since the 1992 election. A member of the Conservative Party, he assumed the roles of Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 8 January 2018. He has frequently been described as Theresa May's de facto Deputy Prime Minister.Between 2010 and 2016, he served as Minister of State for Europe holding the position for the entirety of David Cameron's premiership, a longer period than any of his predecessors. Theresa May appointed him to the cabinet for the first time in June 2016, where he has held a number of roles including Leader of the House of Commons, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.First May ministry
Theresa May formed the first May ministry on 13 July 2016, after having been invited by Queen Elizabeth II to form a new government. Then the Home Secretary, May's appointment followed the resignation of then Prime Minister David Cameron. The ministry, a Conservative majority government, succeeded the second Cameron ministry which had been formed following the 2015 general election. Cameron's government was dissolved as a result of his resignation in the immediate aftermath of the June 2016 referendum on British withdrawal from the European Union.
After the 2017 snap general election resulted in a hung parliament, with no party holding an overall majority, May announced her intention to form a new minority government with support from the Democratic Unionist Party (see Conservative–DUP agreement).Greg Clark
Gregory David Clark (born 28 August 1967) is a British Conservative Party politician who is the MP for Tunbridge Wells and a Cabinet minister serving as the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Clark was born in Middlesbrough and studied Economics at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he was president of Cambridge University Social Democrats. He then gained his PhD from the London School of Economics. Clark worked as a business consultant before becoming the BBC's Controller for Commercial Policy and then Director of Policy for the Conservative Party from 2001 until his election to parliament in 2005.
Between July 2014 and May 2015, he held the post of Minister for Universities, Science and Cities. Clark was previously Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the minister responsible for cities policy, and Minister of State in the Department for Communities and Local Government and then was Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government from May 2015 until July 2016.In July 2016, he was appointed as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy by new Prime Minister Theresa May. He is described as an "economically liberal Conservative with a social conscience".Jacob Rees-Mogg
Jacob William Rees-Mogg (born 24 May 1969) is a British politician serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for North East Somerset since the general election of 2010. A member of the Conservative Party, he has been characterised as socially conservative.Rees-Mogg was born in Hammersmith, London, and educated at Eton College. He then studied History at Trinity College, Oxford and was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association. He worked in the City of London for Lloyd George Management until 2007, then co-founded a hedge fund management business Somerset Capital Management LLP. He has amassed a significant fortune: his estimated net worth in 2016 was from £55 million to (including his wife's prospects) £150 million. Moving into politics, he unsuccessfully contested the 1997 and 2001 general elections before being elected as the MP for North East Somerset in 2010. He was re-elected in 2015 and 2017. Within the Conservative Party he joined the traditionalist and socially conservative Cornerstone Group.
Under David Cameron's government, Rees-Mogg was one of the parliamentary Conservative Party's most rebellious members, opposing the government on issues such as the introduction of same-sex marriage and further intervention in the Syrian Civil War. He became known for his speeches and filibustering in parliamentary debates. A Eurosceptic, he proposed a Conservative coalition with the UK Independence Party and campaigned for the Leave side in the 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union. He subsequently joined pro-Brexit pressure groups Leave Means Leave and the European Research Group, becoming Chair of the latter. He attracted support through the social media campaign Moggmentum, and has been promoted as a potential successor to Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May.Rees-Mogg is a controversial figure in British politics; he has been praised as a conviction politician whose anachronistic upper-class mannerisms and consciously traditionalist attitudes are often seen as entertaining, and has been dubbed the "Honourable Member for the 18th century". On the other hand, critics view him as a reactionary figure, and some of his positions have made him the target of organised protest and criticism.Maidenhead (UK Parliament constituency)
Maidenhead is a constituency in Berkshire represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament. It has been represented by Theresa May since it was created in 1997. May succeeded David Cameron as UK Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party on 13 July 2016. Prior to becoming Prime Minister, May served as Home Secretary from 2010–2016.
It is considered a safe seat for the Conservative Party, as it has never been held by any party other than the Conservatives; nor had any of its predecessor constituencies.Matt Hancock
Matthew John David Hancock (born 2 October 1978) is a British politician of the Conservative Party serving as Member of Parliament for West Suffolk since 2010 and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care since 2018.
Hancock was born in Cheshire, where his family run a software business. Hancock studied PPE at Exeter College, Oxford and Economics at Christ's College, Cambridge. He worked as an economist for the Bank of England before becoming an economic advisor (and later Chief of Staff) to George Osborne.
Following his election in 2010, he served in a number of middle-ranking ministerial positions from September 2013 onwards under both David Cameron and Theresa May. He was promoted to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in January 2018. On 9 July 2018, after the promotion of Jeremy Hunt to Foreign Secretary, Hancock was named Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.Michael Gove
Michael Andrew Gove (; born 26 August 1967) is a British politician of the Conservative Party who was Secretary of State for Education from 2010 to 2014 and Secretary of State for Justice from 2015 to 2016. He became Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the cabinet reshuffle on 11 June 2017. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Surrey Heath since 2005. He is also an author and a columnist for The Times.Born in Edinburgh, Gove was raised in Aberdeen and attended Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where he took a BA in English, graduating with an upper second, after which he began his career as a journalist. He was first elected to the House of Commons in the 2005 election for the safe Conservative seat of Surrey Heath. He was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet by David Cameron in 2007 as Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.
After the formation of the Coalition Government in 2010, Gove was appointed Education Secretary. Gove sought to expand the academies programme introduced by the previous Labour Government. At its 2013 conference, Gove was criticised by the National Association of Head Teachers, whose members condemned the "climate of bullying, fear and intimidation" they said he had created during his time as Education Secretary, and passed a vote of no confidence in his policies. Votes of no confidence were passed by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, National Union of Teachers and NASUWT at their conferences in 2013.In a 2014 Cabinet reshuffle, Gove was moved to the post of Chief Whip. Following the 2015 election, Gove was promoted to the office of Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor. In 2016, Gove played a major role in the UK's referendum on EU membership as the co-convenor of Vote Leave and along with Boris Johnson and Gisela Stuart, became a key figurehead of the campaign.
On 30 June 2016, Gove, who was campaign manager for Boris Johnson's drive to become Prime Minister, withdrew his support on the morning that Johnson was due to declare, and announced his own candidacy in the leadership election. In the first round of voting, Gove came third to Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom. He was eliminated from the leadership race on the second ballot on 7 July 2016. Following her appointment as Prime Minister, May did not appoint him to the Cabinet on 14 July 2016; however, he returned to the Cabinet following the 2017 General Election as Environment Secretary.Next Conservative Party (UK) leadership election
The next Conservative Party leadership election has not yet been launched, but the current party leader and Prime Minister Theresa May has indicated she would most likely not seek to lead the party into another general election in 2022. These comments were in reaction to a no confidence vote by the party's MPs in her leadership that was triggered on 11 December 2018, following the receipt of letters from forty-eight Conservative MPs calling for one. A leadership election would have been called had May lost the vote, but she won with 200 against and 117 for.
Speculation about a leadership election first arose following the party's poor showing at the 2017 snap general election that May had called in hope of increasing her parliamentary majority for Brexit negotiations. However, the Conservatives lost their majority in the House of Commons due to a swing towards the Labour Party. Subsequent speculation has arisen from the difficulties May has had in getting a Brexit deal that is acceptable to the Conservative Party. These escalated in November 2018, with members of the Eurosceptic European Research Group pushing for a vote of no confidence in May that was held in December.Next United Kingdom general election
The next general election in the United Kingdom is scheduled to be held on 5 May 2022 under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. The election may be held at an earlier date in the event of an early election motion being passed by a super-majority of two-thirds in the House of Commons, or a vote of no confidence in the government which is not followed by a vote of confidence within 14 days.Philip Hammond
Philip Anthony Hammond (born 4 December 1955) is a British Conservative politician serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer since 2016 and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Runnymede and Weybridge since 1997.
Hammond was born in Epping, Essex, and studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at University College, Oxford. He worked from 1984 as a company director at Castlemead Ltd – a healthcare and nursing company. From 1995-97 he acted as an adviser to the government of Malawi before his election to Parliament. He was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet by David Cameron in 2005 as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, remaining in this position until a 2007 reshuffle when he became Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
After the formation of the Coalition Government in May 2010, he was appointed Secretary of State for Transport and was sworn of the Privy Council. Upon the resignation of Liam Fox over a scandal in October 2011, Hammond was promoted to replace him as Secretary of State for Defence, before being further promoted in July 2014 to become Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.In July 2016, after Theresa May succeeded Cameron as Prime Minister, Hammond was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. As Chancellor, Hammond has suggested that the government may begin a reduction in austerity measures.Premiership of Theresa May
The premiership of Theresa May began on 13 July 2016, when Theresa May accepted Queen Elizabeth II's invitation to form a government. This followed the resignation of May's predecessor as Prime Minister, David Cameron, who resigned in the aftermath of the European Union membership referendum.Second May ministry
The second May ministry was formed on 11 June 2017 after Queen Elizabeth II invited Theresa May to form a government following the June 2017 snap general election. The election resulted in a hung parliament with the Conservative Party losing its majority in the House of Commons. On 9 June 2017, May announced her intention to form a Conservative minority government, reliant on the confidence and supply of the Democratic Unionist Party; a finalised agreement between the two parties was signed and published on 26 June 2017.
Shadow Cabinet positions
|Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions|
19 January 2009 – 11 May 2010
|Preceded by||Chris Grayling|
|Succeeded by||Yvette Cooper|
|Shadow Minister for Women and Equality|
2 July 2007 – 11 May 2010
|Preceded by||Eleanor Laing|
|Succeeded by||Yvette Cooper|
15 June 1999 – 18 September 2001
Shadow Minister for Women
|Shadowing||The Baroness Jay of Paddington|
|Preceded by||Gillian Shephard|
|Succeeded by||Caroline Spelman|
|Shadow Leader of the House of Commons|
6 December 2005 – 19 January 2009
|Preceded by||Chris Grayling|
|Succeeded by||Alan Duncan|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport|
6 May 2005 – 8 December 2005
|Preceded by||John Whittingdale|
|Succeeded by||Hugo Swire|
|Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment and Transport|
6 November 2003 – 14 June 2004
|Shadowing||Margaret Beckett (Environment)|
Alistair Darling (Transport)
|Preceded by||David Lidington (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)|
Tim Collins (Transport)
|Succeeded by||Tim Yeo|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Transport|
6 June 2002 – 23 July 2002
|Leader||Iain Duncan Smith|
|Preceded by||Herself (Transport, Local Government and the Regions)|
|Succeeded by||Tim Collins|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions|
18 September 2001 – 6 June 2002
|Leader||Iain Duncan Smith|
|Preceded by||Archie Norman (Environment, Transport and the Regions)|
|Succeeded by||Herself (Transport)|
Eric Pickles (Local Government and the Regions)
|Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Employment|
15 June 1999 – 18 September 2001
Estelle Morris (Education and Skills)
Alistair Darling (Work and Pensions)
|Preceded by||David Willetts|
|Succeeded by||Damian Green (Education and Skills)|
David Willetts (Work and Pensions)
Offices and distinctions