Britain has got itself a new Prime Minister, and with the swearing in comes many firsts. She’s the first woman Prime Minister in over a quarter of a century, she’s the first to be appointed so quickly, and most importantly, she’s the first to be chosen by party activists than by a general election.
Touted as the next Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister Theresa May is the new leader of a post-Brexit Britain, moving on from her post as Home Secretary. The 59-year-old Mrs. May will now take charge of delicate negotiations to separate Britain from the European Union, even though she was a Leave campaigner during the Brexit vote. As Home Secretary, Mrs. May has earned a reputation as a reliable, even-tempered minister who capably ran a sprawling department responsible for counter-terrorism policy, policing, immigration, border control and drug policy.
May’s triumph is no surprise to colleagues, who say she is cool and calm under pressure. However, there is no doubt she has her critics. Conservative Party statesman Kenneth Clarke unwittingly got caught on camera last week calling her a “bloody difficult woman”.
While she has confidently stepped into a role, Mrs.May has not been elected in by a general election, or by the alternate method of party activists voting her in as originally planned. This is because her rival, Andrea Leadsom, cut the contest to become Conservative leader short by choosing to step down.
Her new position of leadership unfortunately means that her task at hand is to first heal the nastiness that is spreading through her party. The Conservatives have been bitterly divided over the European issue for many years and the referendum has only deepened the rift.
Her first move to heal divisions has been to appoint leading “Leave” campaigner Boris Johnson to a senior cabinet post of foreign secretary – which is likely to cause controversy.
While there are suspicions among Brexiteers of her intentions, Mrs. May has stressed that she will honour the popular vote, saying repeatedly that “Brexit means Brexit”.