Meet your new prime minister: What you need to know about Theresa May


CommonSpace looks at the career and political record of Theresa May, the UK’s new prime minister

THERESA MAY will today (13 July) become the UK’s new prime minister without an election.

But who is she and what is her record in politics?

CommonSpace looks at her career and the political choices she’s made so far


Age: 59

Education: May was educated at both state and private schools, including a private catholic girls school before going on to study geography at Oxford University.

Career: May worked for the Bank of England before being elected as a councillor in 1986. She made two failed attempts to be elected as an MP before being elected for Maidenhead in 1997.

She served in a number of high profile roles from that point on, becoming Conservative party chair in 2002 and shadow leader of the House of Commons in 2005. In 2010 she was awarded the post of home secretary, one of the most prestigious in the government.

May was a quiet supporter of a Remain vote in the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU

In 2016 she was selected by party MPs as their favourite to succeed David Cameron as prime minister.

Political record

As a prominent figure in the UK Government since 2010, May has been central to a number of key Conservative reforms and initiatives.

Police cuts: May was tasked with substantial cuts to police budgets of 18 per cent, bringing the Conservatives into an unprecedented level of conflict with police forces across England.

Prevent strategy: She has headed up the government’s anti-terror Prevent strategy which is controversial among civil liberties campaigners for provisions in the legislation they say encourage public servants, teachers and lecturers to spy on the public .

Curbs to immigration: Before the vote to leave the EU, May repeatedly promised to bring immigration into the UK down from hundreds to tens of thousands. These targets were always improbable, not least because of free movement between the UK and other EU countries.

May also introduced a controversial scheme in 2016 whereby migrants from outside the EU would only be admitted for employment purposes if they earned over £35,000 per year.

Voting record

Scotland: May has staunchly opposed most measures of devolution proposed in the Scotland Bill.

She opposed major areas of devolution such as the right of the Scottish Parliament to create new state benefits and to give the parliament responsibility over the Crown Estates.

But she also voted against giving the Scottish Parliament the power to make minor reforms, such as the right of the parliament to adjust time zones and regulate food labelling, and things which are cost free, such as to implement gender balancing in the parliament and on the boards of public authorities.

Military action: May has consistently supported military intervention, backing the Iraq war in 2003 as well as bombing campaigns in Libya in 2011 and Syria in 2015.

Bedroom Tax: May was a supporter of the so called ‘Bedroom Tax’ which saw recipients of housing benefit receive a reduction in their payments if they had one or more spare rooms. She voted against attempts to overturn it.

Tuition Fees: Theresa May voted against plans to increase tuition fees from £1,125 to £3,000 in March 2004 under Labour. She then voted to increase them from £3,000 to £9,000 in 2010 under the Conservatives.

Picture courtesy of Policy Exchange

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