Theresa May

13/07/201624/07/2019View on timeline

Theresa May

Theresa Mary May, Lady May (born 1 October 1956) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 2016 to 2019. May served as Home Secretary from 2010 to 2016 and has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Maidenhead in Berkshire since 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 at the Bank of England and the Association for Payment Clearing Services. She also served as a councillor for Durnsford in Merton. After two unsuccessful attempts to be elected to the House of Commons, she was elected as the MP for Maidenhead in 1997. From 1999 to 2010, May held several roles in shadow cabinets. She was also chairwoman of the Conservative Party from 2002 to 2003. Following the formation of the coalition government after the 2010 general election, May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, but gave up the latter role in 2012. Reappointed after the Conservative success in the 2015 general election, she 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 and brought in additional restrictions on immigration. She also oversaw the introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners, the deportation of Abu Qatada and the creation of the National Crime Agency.

In July 2016, after David Cameron resigned, May was elected Conservative Party leader and became the UK's second female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher. She is the first, and to date, the only woman to hold two of the Great Offices of State. She 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 aims of strengthening her hand in Brexit negotiations and highlighting her "strong and stable" leadership. This resulted in a hung parliament in which the number of Conservative seats had fallen from 330 to 317, despite the party winning its 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 Conservative MPs in December 2018 and a vote of no confidence tabled by Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn in January 2019.

As Prime Minister, she carried out the Brexit negotiations with the European Union, adhering to the Chequers Agreement, which resulted in the Brexit withdrawal agreement. She also oversaw a £20 billion increase in funding to the National Health Service through the NHS Long Term Plan, established the first-ever Race Disparity Audit and launched a 25-Year Environment Plan, amending the Climate Change Act 2008 to end the UK's contribution to global warming by 2050. Unemployment in the United Kingdom fell to record lows, the lowest jobless rate since 1975. After versions of her draft withdrawal agreement were rejected by Parliament three times, she resigned and was succeeded by Boris Johnson, her former Foreign Secretary. She remains in the House of Commons as a backbencher.


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Published in 10/09/2020

Updated in 19/02/2021

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