Theresa May was born 1 October 1956 in Eastbourne, East Sussex, England, United Kingdom to Hubert Brasier (1917-1981) and Zaidee Mary Barnes (1928-1982) . She married Philip John May (1957) 6 September 1980 in Bullingdon Hundred, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom.

Theresa Mary May (née Brasier; born 1 October 1956) is a British politician who has been the Leader of the Conservative Party since 11 July 2016, the Home Secretary since 2010, and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Maidenhead since 1997. Identifying as a One-Nation Conservative and characterised as a liberal conservative, May is expected to replace David Cameron as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom following a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II on 13 July, becoming the second female UK prime minister.


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The Right Honourable Theresa May MP

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Taking office
13 July 2016[1]
Monarch Elizabeth II
Succeeding David Cameron

Leader of the Conservative Party
Assumed office 
11 July 2016
Deputy George Osborne
Preceded by David Cameron

Home Secretary
Assumed office 
12 May 2010
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Alan Johnson

Minister for Women and Equalities
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Harriet Harman
Succeeded by Maria Miller

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
19 January 2009 – 11 May 2010
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Chris Grayling
Succeeded by Yvette Cooper

Shadow Minister for Women and Equality
In office
2 July 2007 – 11 May 2010
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Eleanor Laing
Succeeded by Yvette Cooper
In office
15 June 1999 – 18 September 2001
Shadow Minister for Women
Leader William Hague
Preceded by Gillian Shephard
Succeeded by Caroline Spelman

Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
6 December 2005 – 19 January 2009
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Chris Grayling
Succeeded by Alan Duncan

Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
In office
6 May 2005 – 8 December 2005
Leader Michael Howard
Preceded by John Whittingdale
Succeeded by Hugo Swire

Shadow Secretary of State for the Family
In office
15 June 2004 – 8 December 2005
Leader Michael Howard
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished

Chairman of the Conservative Party
In office
23 July 2002 – 6 November 2003
Leader Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by David Davis
Succeeded by Liam Fox
The Lord Saatchi

Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
In office
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
In office
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
In office
15 June 1999 – 18 September 2001
Leader William Hague
Preceded by David Willetts
Succeeded by Damian Green (Education and Skills)
David Willetts (Work and Pensions)

Born 1 October 1956 (1956-10-01) (age 65)
Eastbourne, England, UK
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Philip May (m. 1980–present) «start: (1980

-09-06)»"Marriage: Philip May to Theresa Mary Brasier (1956)" Location: (linkback:

Alma mater St Hugh's College, Oxford
Religion Anglicanism[2][3]

Born in Eastbourne, Sussex, May studied geography at St Hugh's College, Oxford. From 1977 until 1983, May worked at the Bank of England, and from 1985 until 1997 at the Association for Payment Clearing Services, also serving as a councillor for the London Borough of Merton's Durnsford Ward. After unsuccessful attempts to be elected to the House of Commons in 1992 and 1994, she was elected MP for Maidenhead in the 1997 general election. May served in a number of roles in the Shadow Cabinets of William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard, and David Cameron, including Shadow Leader of the House of Commons and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary. She was also the Chairman of the Conservative Party from 2002 until 2003.

After the formation of the Coalition Government following the 2010 general election, May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, giving up the latter role in 2012. Reappointed after the Conservative victory in the 2015 general election, she went on to become the longest-serving Home Secretary since James Chuter Ede over 60 years previously, pursuing reform of the police, taking a harder line on drug policy and introducing restrictions on immigration.[4]

Following the resignation of Cameron in June 2016, May announced her candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party and quickly emerged as the front-runner. She won the first ballot of Conservative MPs on 5 July by a significant margin, and two days later won the votes of 199 MPs, going forward to face a vote of Conservative Party members in a contest with Andrea Leadsom. Leadsom's withdrawal from the election on 11 July led to May's appointment as leader the same day.

Early life and education

Born on 1 October 1956 in Eastbourne, Sussex, May is the daughter of Zaidee Mary (née Barnes; 1928–1982) and Hubert Brasier (1917–1981). Her father was a Church of England clergyman.[5][6][7][8] Her parents both died suddenly, her father in a car accident.[9]

May was educated at primary and grammar schools in the State sector, as well as a short spell at an independent Catholic school. She initially attended Heythrop Primary School, Oxfordshire,[10] followed by St. Juliana's Convent School for Girls,[11] a Roman Catholic independent school in Begbroke, which closed in 1984.[12] At the age of 13, she won a place at the former Holton Park Girls' Grammar School in Wheatley, Oxfordshire. In 1971, the school was abolished and became the site of the new Wheatley Park Comprehensive School during her time as a pupil.[11][13] May then went to the University of Oxford where she read geography at St Hugh's College, graduating with a second class BA degree in 1977.[14]

Early career

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.[15]

May served as a councillor for 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 seat of North West Durham and failed to win the 1994 Barking by-election. In the 1997 general election, May was elected as the Conservative MP for Maidenhead.[15]

Member of Parliament

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 – June 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 explaining why, in her view, her party must change: "you know what people call us: the Nasty Party".[16][17] 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.[18]

In June 2004 she was moved to become 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 per cent of the vote. This followed an earlier failed attempt to unseat her in 2005 as one of the Liberal Democrats' leading "decapitation-strategy" targets.[19]

Home Secretary

May with Prime Minister David Cameron, May 2010

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 (in order of seniority) Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister), Margaret Beckett (Foreign Secretary) and Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary).[20] As Home Secretary, May is also a member of the National Security Council.[21] She is the longest-serving Home Secretary for over 60 years, since James Chuter Ede who served over six years and two months from 1945 until 1951. May's appointment as Home Secretary was somewhat unexpected, as Chris Grayling had served as shadow Home Secretary in opposition.[22][23]

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[24][25] and reformed the regulations on the retention of DNA samples for suspects and controls on the use of CCTV cameras. On 20 May 2010, May announced the adjournment of the deportation to the United States of alleged computer hacker Gary McKinnon.[26] She also suspended the registration scheme for carers of children and vulnerable people.[27][28]

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.[29] This was followed on 6 August 2010 by the closure of the previous government's "ContactPoint" database of 11 million under-18-year-olds designed to protect children in the wake of the Victoria Climbié child abuse scandal.[30]

On 2 June 2010, May faced her first major national security incident as Home Secretary with the Cumbria shootings.[31][32] She delivered her first major speech in the House of Commons as Home Secretary in a statement on this incident,[33] later visiting the victims with the Prime Minister.[34][35] Also in June 2010, May banned the Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik from entering the United Kingdom.[36] Home Office officials who disagreed with this decision were suspended from work.[37] In late June 2010, May announced plans for a temporary cap on UK visas for non-EU migrants.[38] The move raised concerns about the impact on the UK economy.[39]

Speaking at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) conference on 29 June 2010, May announced radical cuts to the Home Office budget, likely to lead to a reduction in police numbers.[40] In July 2010, it was reported that May had corresponded with Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of the missing child Madeleine McCann.[41] In August 2010, May attended a private meeting with Mr and Mrs McCann to discuss their case.[42]

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.[43][44] In mid-July 2010, the second major gun incident during May's term took place in the north of England: a week-long police operation failed to capture and arrest Raoul Moat, an ex-convict who shot three people, killing one. The suspect later shot himself dead.[45][46] During the incident, Moat was shot with a long-range taser. It later transpired that the firm supplying the taser, Pro-Tect, was in breach of its licence by supplying the police directly with the weapon. Its licence was revoked by the Home Office after the Moat shooting. On 1 October 2010 the BBC reported that the director of the company, Peter Boatman, had apparently killed himself over the incident.[47]

In August 2010, May banned the English Defence League (EDL) from holding a march in Bradford, West Yorkshire, on 28 August. The EDL protested against the ban, claiming they planned a "peaceful demonstration".[48] Around 2 pm on the day of the ban, violent disturbances in Bradford between EDL members and their opponents were reported, calling for intervention by riot police.[49][50]

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.[51][52]

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."[53] 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."[54] She returned to the UK from holiday to meet senior police officials on 8 August.

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."[55]

May launched an inquiry into the phone-tapping scandal; tabloid paper journalists had been jailed in 2009 for intercepting the mobile phone messages of major public figures. The case involved a journalist employed by former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who had later become director of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron. (Coulson was absolved of any role in the bugging incidents during a House of Commons enquiry in 2009.) Labour Party leadership candidate Ed Balls called on the Home Secretary to make a statement to the House on the matter.[56] On 5 September, May told the BBC that there were "no grounds for a public enquiry".[57] The Metropolitan Police said it might consider re-examining evidence on the allegations.[58] On 6 September 2010, May faced parliamentary questions over the allegations following an intervention by Speaker Bercow.[59][60]

May speaking at the Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery in 2014

At the Conservative Party Conference on 4 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.[61] Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke subsequently called May's comments "laughable and childlike."[62] Amnesty International said May's comments only fuelled "myths and misconceptions" about the Human Rights Act and the fact "that someone in Theresa May's position can be so misinformed as to parade out a story about someone being allowed to stay in Britain because of a cat is nothing short of alarming."[63]

In June 2013, May signed an order prohibiting Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, two American bloggers who co-founded the anti-Muslim group Stop Islamization of America, from entering the United Kingdom on the basis that their presence would not be "conducive to the public good".[64][65] The pair had been invited to attend an English Defence League march at Woolwich, where Drummer Lee Rigby had been killed earlier that year.[64] The pressure group Hope not Hate led a campaign to exclude the pair, whom the Home Office described as "inflammatory speakers who promote hate".[66][67]

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".[68] 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".[68] The High Court subsequently acknowledged there were "indirect implications for press freedom" but ruled the detention legal.[69]

On 29 August 2014, the British government raised the terrorist threat level to "severe", as Prime Minister David Cameron and May warned a terrorist attack was "highly likely" following the coming to prominence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. May admitted that, although the threat level had been hiked to the second-highest possible, there was no intelligence warning of an imminent attack.[70]

Police reform

On 26 July 2010, May announced a package of reforms to policing in England and Wales in the House of Commons.[71] 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.[71]

Following the actions of a minority of Black Bloc in vandalising allegedly tax-avoiding shops and businesses on the day of 26 March TUC march, the Home Secretary unveiled reforms[72] 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.[73]

In 2014, May delivered a well-known speech to the Police Federation, in which she criticised many aspects of the culture of the police force.[74] In the speech, she said:

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.[75]

Drug policy

Khat bundles

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.[76]

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.[77]

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.[78]

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.[79][80] 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.[81][82][83][84]

Anti-social behaviour

On 28 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.[85][86] Former Labour Home Secretaries David Blunkett (who introduced ASBOs) and Alan Johnson expressed their disapproval of the proposals.[87]

Family migration

European Economic Area members in blue and green

On 11 June 2012, May, as Home Secretary, announced to Parliament that new restrictions would be introduced, intended 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.[88] The new rules came into effect from 9 July 2012 allowing only those British citizens earning more than £18,600 to bring their spouse or their child 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 five 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.[89]

An MP, who was concerned about this, addressed May in Parliament as to whether she had examined the impact on communities and families on modest incomes, but he received no direct response.[90] Liberty concluded that the new rules showed scant regard to the impact they would have on genuine families.[91] 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.[92]


In July 2013, May welcomed the fact that crime had fallen by more than ten percent 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.[93]

Deportation decisions

May, David Cameron and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, 14 July 2011

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.[94][95]

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.[96][97][98]

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.[99] 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.[99] 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.[100]

Abu Qatada deportation

Abu Qatada boards a plane for deportation to Jordan

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,[101] and numerous prior Home Secretaries had been unable to resolve.[102] The deportation was the result of a treaty negotiated by May in April 2013, under which Jordan agreed to give Qatada a fair trial, and to refrain from torturing him.[103]

May has frequently 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".[104][105] 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.[101]

Passport backlog

By mid 2014, American company 3M which makes the RFID microchips in new passports, and their client, the Passport Office, revealed allegations of a large backlog in developing processing passport applications appeared.[106] David Cameron suggested that this had come about due to the Passport Office's receiving an "above normal" 300,000-rise in applications.[107] 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.[108] Around £674,000 was paid to staff who helped clear the backlog.[109]


In 2010, May promised to bring the level of net migration down to less than 100,000.[110] In February 2015, The Independent reported, "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."[111] 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."[111]

May rejected the European Union's proposal of compulsory refugee quotas.[112] 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".[113] 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.[114]

Birmingham schools row

In June 2014, an inflamed public argument arose between Home Office and Education Ministers about responsibility for alleged extremism in Birmingham schools.[115][116] Prime Minister David Cameron's intervened to resolve the row, insisting that May sack her Special Advisor Fiona Cunningham for releasing on May's website a confidential letter to May's colleagues,[117] 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.[118][119]

Greville Janner abuse concerns

In April 2015, May said she was "very concerned" about the decision not to prosecute the Labour politician Lord Janner over allegations of historical child sex abuse.[120] Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that although there was enough evidence to bring charges against Janner, he was unfit to stand trial.[121][122]

Saudi Arabia

In March 2014, May signed a secret security pact with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told The Independent: "Deals with nations like Saudi Arabia should not be done in secret."[123]

In 2015, May supported a £5.9 million contract to help run prisons in Saudi Arabia. It was opposed by Justice Secretary Michael Gove and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.[124][125]

Minister for Women and Equality

May and Justine Greening speaking at Youth For Change, 19 July 2014

May held the office of Minister for Women and Equality in parallel to her office of Home Secretary from 2010 to September 2012, when this role was taken over Maria Miller.[126]

May's appointment as Minister for Women and Equality was criticised by some members of the LGBT/gay rights movement,[127] 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.[128][129] May later stated, during an appearance on the BBC's Question Time, that she had "changed her mind" on gay adoption.[130] 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".[131]

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.[132] The Equality Act came into effect in England, Wales and Scotland on 1 October 2010.[133] She did however announce that a clause she dubbed "Harman's Law"[134] which would have required public bodies to consider how they can reduce socio-economic inequalities when making decisions about spending and services[135] would be scrapped on the grounds that it was "unworkable".[136]

Support for same-sex marriage

In May 2012, May expressed support for the introduction of same-sex marriage by recording a video for the Out4Marriage campaign.[137] May became one of the first high-profile Conservative MPs to pledge personal support for same-sex marriage. She explained, "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".[138]

Leadership of the Conservative Party

On 30 June 2016, May announced her candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party to replace David Cameron, who resigned after the outcome of the European Union membership referendum. May emphasised the need for unity within the party regardless of positions about leaving the EU and said 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," she said, adding that Article 50 (the formal notification of Britain's exit from the EU) should not be filed until the end of 2016. On the issue of immigration, she agreed that there was a need to regain more control of the numbers of people who come to Britain from Europe. Under questioning she conceded that it would not be possible totally to eliminate immigration to the UK.

In opinion polls May was regarded as the favourite choice among the public; in a Sky Data Snap Poll on 30 June, 47% of people said May was their preferred Prime Minister.[139] May's supporters included a number of Cabinet Ministers, such as Amber Rudd, Chris Grayling, Justine Greening, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Fallon and Patrick McLoughlin.[140]

May won the first round of voting on 5 July, receiving support from 165 MPs, while Andrea Leadsom received 66 votes and Michael Gove collected 48. According to The Guardian, May was "almost certain to be among the final two candidates."[141] 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".[142] The two candidates with the fewest votes, Liam Fox and Stephen Crabb, immediately announced their support for May.[143] May came in first place in the second ballot on 7 July with an overwhelming majority of 199 MPs against 84 for Leadsom and 46 for Gove, who was eliminated[144]. 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[145]

On 11 July, Leadsom announced her withdrawal from the leadership contest hours after May had made her first campaign speech, citing her lack of support amongst Conservative MPs as being a hindrance to becoming a credible Prime Minister.[146][147] As the sole remaining candidate, May was declared Leader of the Conservative Party that evening[148][149].

Prime Minister

Soon after her election as Leader of the Conservative Party on 11 July 2016, David Cameron announced that he would tender his resignation as Prime Minister two days later. Upon her appointment by the Queen, May will become the second female prime minister, after Margaret Thatcher.

Political ideology

May has identified herself with the One Nation Conservative position within her party.[150]

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.[151]

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.[152]

May supported 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.[153][154] 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.[155]

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.[156]

Personal life

May's has been married to Philip John May, an investment banker currently employed by Capital International, since 6 September 1980; the couple have no children.[157] May has stated her regret that, for health reasons, she has not been able to have children with her husband, saying in one interview that, "You look at families all the time and you see there is something there that you don’t have".[158][159]

Outside politics, May lists her interests as walking and cooking.[160] May is known for a love of fashion and in particular eccentric shoes, wearing leopard-print heels at her 'Nasty Party' speech in 2002.

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.[161] Commenting on May's debut as Home Secretary, Anne Perkins of The Guardian observed that "she'll be nobody's stooge",[162] while Cristina Odone of The Daily Telegraph predicted her to be "the rising star" of the Coalition Government.[163] Allegra Stratton, then with The Guardian, praised May as showing managerial acumen.[164]

Her parliamentary expenses have been "modest" in recent years (about £15,000 from 2005 to 2009).[165]

May was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus of type 1 in November 2012. She is treated with daily insulin injections.[166]

Religious views

May is a member of the Church of England and regularly worships at church on Sunday.[2][3][167] The daughter of an Anglican priest, 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".[168]

Activism and awards

Prior to and since her appointment to Government, May actively supports 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.[169]

She is the Patron of Reading University Conservative Association, the largest political student group in Berkshire (the county of her Maidenhead constituency).[170] May has also received the Freedom of the City of London, and been admitted to the Worshipful Company of Marketors, a livery company for senior marketing professionals.

In February 2013, BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour described her as Britain's second most powerful woman.[171]


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