UK: Theresa May prepares to take over from David Cameron

UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron has chaired his final cabinet meeting, with some “wonderful tributes” paid to him, as he exit as PM.

Mrs. Theresa May is preparing to take over from Mr. David Cameron, who will hand in his resignation to the Queen on Wednesday, July 13, 2016.

Mrs. May, home secretary since 2010, had been expecting a nine-week race for the Tory leadership, but rival Andrea Leadsom withdrew on Monday.

Mrs. May, who has pledged to make Brexit a success, will appoint her own ministerial team when she takes office.

She says she is “honoured and humbled” to be taking over as Conservative Party leader and, therefore, prime minister.

Theresa May is the new Conservative Party leader and will become the UK’s second female prime minister on Wednesday, taking charge at one of the most turbulent times in recent political history.

The 59-year-old home secretary’s carefully cultivated image of political dependability and unflappability appears to have made her the right person at the right time as the fallout from the UK’s vote to leave the EU smashed possible rivals out of contention.

Long known to have nurtured leadership hopes, Mrs. May, whose friends recall her early ambition to be the UK’s first female PM, could have reasonably expected to have had to wait until at least 2018 to have a shot at Downing Street.

But the EU referendum which David Cameron called and lost – the year after leading the party to its first election win in 23 years – turned political certainties on their head and, as other candidates fell by the wayside after the PM’s own resignation, Mrs. May emerged as the “unity” candidate to succeed him.

That her party should rally round her at such a time of national uncertainty is testament not only to the respect in which she is held across the party but to the fact that, in a world where political reputations can be shredded in an instant, Mrs. May is the ultimate political survivor.

In the early days at Westminster she became known for her exuberant choice of footwear – her kitten heels became famous in political circles in the noughties, while she named a lifetime subscription to Vogue as the luxury item she would take to a desert island.

But it is her toughness which has become her political hallmark. She has coped with being one of only a small number of women in the upper echelons of the Conservative Party for 17 years and has been prepared to tell her party some hard truths, famously informing activists at the 2002 conference that “you know what some people call us – the nasty party”.

Born in Sussex but raised largely in Oxfordshire, Mrs. May, both of whose grandmothers are reported to have been in domestic service, attended a state primary, an independent convent school and then a grammar school in the village of Wheatley, which became the Wheatley Park Comprehensive School during her time there.

The young Theresa Brazier, as she was then, threw herself into village life, taking part in a pantomime that was produced by her father and working in the bakery on Saturdays to earn pocket money.

Friends recall a tall, fashion-conscious young women who from an early age spoke of her ambition to be the first women prime minister.

Like Margaret Thatcher, she went to Oxford University to study and, like so many others of her generation, found that her personal and political lives soon became closely intertwined.

In 1976, in her third year, she met her husband Philip, who was president of the Oxford Union, a well-known breeding ground for future political leaders.

The story has it that they were introduced at a Conservative Association disco by the subsequent Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. They married in 1980.

Her university friend Pat Frankland, speaking in 2011 on a BBC Radio 4 profile of the then home secretary, said: “I cannot remember a time when she did not have political ambitions.


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