Theresa Mary, Lady May (; ' Brasier; born 1 October 1956) is a British politician who served as and from 2016 to 2019. May served as from 2010 to 2016 in the and has been the (MP) for in since . Ideologically, she identifies herself as a . May grew up in and attended . After graduating in 1977, she worked at the and the . She also served as a councillor for Durnsford in . After two unsuccessful attempts to be elected to the , she was elected as the MP for Maidenhead in 1997. From 1999 to 2010, May held several roles in . She was also from 2002 to 2003. Following of after the , May was appointed Home Secretary and but gave up the latter role in 2012. Reappointed after the Conservative success in the , she became the longest-serving Home Secretary in over 60 years. During her tenure she pursued reform of the , implemented a harder line on drugs policy including the banning of and brought in . She also oversaw the introduction of elected , the deportation of and the creation of the and the . In July 2016, after resigned, May was elected Conservative Party leader and became the UK's second female prime minister after . She is the first, and to date, the only woman to hold two of the . She began the process of , triggering in March 2017. The following month, she announced a , with the aims of strengthening her hand in and highlighting her "" leadership. This resulted in a in which the number of Conservative seats had fallen from 330 to 317, despite the party winning its highest vote share . The loss of an overall majority prompted her to enter a with the (DUP) of to support a . May survived a vote of no confidence from Conservative MPs in December 2018 and a tabled by in January 2019. As Prime Minister, she carried out the Brexit negotiations with the , adhering to the , which resulted in the . She also oversaw a £20 billion increase in funding to the through the , established the first-ever Race Disparity Audit and launched a 25 Year Environment Plan, amending the to end the UK's contribution to global warming by 2050. fell to record lows, the lowest jobless rate since 1975. After versions of her draft withdrawal agreement were , she resigned and was succeeded by , her former . She remains in the House of Commons as a .

Early life, family, and education

Theresa May was born on 1 October 1956 in , , May is the only child of Zaidee Mary ( Barnes; 1928–1982) and Hubert Brasier (1917–1981). Her father was a clergyman (and an ) who was chaplain of an Eastbourne hospital.Brasier, Hubert, '' 1977–79'', He later became vicar of with and finally of at Wheatley, to the east of Oxford. May's mother was a supporter of the Conservative Party. Her father died in 1981, from injuries sustained in a car accident, and her mother of the following year. May later stated she was "sorry they er parentsnever saw me elected as a Member of Parliament". May initially attended Heythrop Primary School, a state school in Heythrop, followed by St. Juliana's Convent School for Girls, a independent school in , which closed in 1984. At the age of 13, she won a place at the former Holton Park Girls' Grammar School, a state school in . During her time as a pupil, the Oxfordshire education system was reorganised, and the school became the new . May attended the , read at , and graduated with a second class degree in 1977. She worked at a bakery on Saturdays to earn pocket money and was a "tall, fashion-conscious young woman who from an early age spoke of her ambition to be the first woman prime minister," according to those who knew her. According to a university friend, Pat Frankland: "I cannot remember a time when she did not have political ambitions. I well remember, at the time, she was quite irritated when got there first."

Early career

Between 1977 and 1983, May worked at the , and from 1985 to 1997, at the (APACS), as a financial consultant. She served as Head of the European Affairs Unit from 1989 to 1996 and Senior Adviser on International Affairs from 1996 to 1997 in the organisation.

Entry into politics

May served as a councillor for Durnsford ward on the of the from 1986 to 1994, where she was Chairman of Education (1988–90) and Deputy Group Leader and Housing Spokesman (1992–94).

Unsuccessful national attempts

In the May was the Conservative Party candidate for the safe Labour seat of , placing second to incumbent MP , with future Liberal Democrat leader placing third. May then stood at the , which was prompted by the death of Labour MP . The seat had been continuously held by Labour since it was created in 1945, and Labour candidate was expected to win easily, which she did. May placed a distant third.

Wins seat in Parliament

Around 18 months ahead of the , May was selected as the Conservative candidate for , a new seat which was created from parts of the seats of and . She was elected comfortably with 25,344 votes (49.8%), almost double the total of second-placed Andrew Terence Ketteringham of the Liberal Democrats, who took 13,363 votes (26.3%). Despite this, her party suffered their worst defeat in over 150 years.

Early Parliamentary career

Having entered , May became a member of 's front-bench team, as Shadow Spokesman for Schools, Disabled People and Women (1998–1999). 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 the new Conservative leader kept her in the Shadow Cabinet, moving her to the Transport portfolio. May was appointed the first female in July 2002. During her speech at the 2002 Conservative Party Conference, she explained why, in her view, her party must change: "You know what people call us? The Nasty Party. In recent years a number of politicians have behaved disgracefully and then compounded their offences by trying to evade responsibility. We all know who they are. Let's face it, some of them have stood on this platform." She accused some unnamed colleagues of trying to "make political capital out of demonising minorities", and charged others with indulging themselves "in petty feuding or sniping instead of getting behind a leader who is doing an enormous amount to change a party which has suffered two landslide defeats". She admitted that constituency selection committees seemed to prefer candidates they would "be happy to have a drink with on a Sunday morning", continuing to say, "At the last general election 38 new Tory MPs were elected. Of that total, only one was a woman and none was from an ethnic minority. Is that fair? Is one half of the population entitled to only one place out of 38?" In 2003, after 's election as Conservative Party and Opposition Leader in November that year, May was appointed Shadow . In June 2004, she was moved to become . Following the she was also made Shadow . After became leader, he appointed May as in December 2005 and as in July 2007. In January 2009, May was made Shadow . On 6 May 2010, May was re-elected MP for Maidenhead with an increased majority of 16,76960% of the vote. This followed an earlier failed attempt by the Liberal Democrats to unseat her in 2005, as one of that party's leading "decapitation-strategy" targets.

Home Secretary

On 12 May 2010, when May was appointed and by Prime Minister as part of his first Cabinet, she became the fourth woman to hold one of the British , after (), () and (Home Secretary). As Home Secretary, May was also a member of the . She was the longest-serving Home Secretary for over 60 years, since who served over six years and two months from August 1945 to October 1951. May's appointment as Home Secretary was somewhat unexpected, with having served as shadow Home Secretary in opposition. 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 , she brought about the abolition of the Labour government's and database scheme and reformed the regulations on the retention of DNA samples for suspects and controls on the use of cameras. In May 2010, May announced the adjournment of the deportation to the United States of alleged computer hacker . She also suspended the registration scheme for carers of children and vulnerable people, with May saying that the measures were "draconian. You were assumed to be guilty until you were proven innocent, and told you were able to work with children." On 4 August 2010, it was reported that May was scrapping the former Labour government's proposed "go orders" scheme to protect women from by banning abusers from the victim's home. In June 2010, May faced her first major national security incident as Home Secretary with the . She delivered her first major speech in the as Home Secretary in a statement on this incident, later visiting the victims with the Prime Minister. Also in June 2010, May banned the Indian Muslim preacher from entering the United Kingdom. According to ''The Daily Telegraph'', a Home Office official who disagreed with this decision was suspended. In late June 2010, May announced plans for a temporary cap on UK visas for non-EU migrants. The move raised concerns about the impact on the British economy. In August 2013, May supported the detention of , partner of ''Guardian'' journalist , under the , saying that critics of the Metropolitan Police action needed to "think about what they are condoning". Lib Dem peer and former Director of Public Prosecutions accused May of an "ugly and unhelpful" attempt to implicate those who were concerned about the police action of "condoning terrorism". The High Court subsequently acknowledged there were "indirect implications for press freedom" but ruled the detention legal. May also championed legislation popularly dubbed the , requiring internet and mobile service providers to keep records of internet usage, voice calls, messages and email for up to a year in case police requested access to the records while investigating a crime. The Liberal Democrats had blocked the , but after the Conservative Party obtained a majority in the 2015 general election May announced a new similar to the Draft Communications Data Bill, although with more limited powers and additional oversight.

Police and crime

Speaking at the (ACPO) conference in June 2010, May announced radical cuts to the Home Office budget, likely to lead to a reduction in police numbers. 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. In July 2010, May announced a package of reforms to policing in England and Wales in the . The previous Labour Government's central crime agency, , was to be replaced by a new . In common with the Conservative Party 2010 general election manifesto's flagship proposal for a "" based on voluntary action, May also proposed increasing the role of civilian "reservists" for crime control. The reforms were rejected by the Opposition . Following the actions of some members of in vandalising allegedly shops and businesses on the day of the March 2011 TUC march, the Home Secretary unveiled reforms curbing the right to protest, including giving police extra powers to remove masked individuals and to police social networking sites to prevent without police consent or notification. In 2012, despite inquiries by both and the ruling that there was no new evidence to warrant further investigation, after discussions with , May commissioned to review Scotland Yard's investigations into alleged police corruption. The report was presented to Parliament by May on 6 March 2014. , said the report, which has prompted an inquiry into undercover policing, was "devastating". In July 2013, May welcomed the fact that crime had fallen by more than 10% 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. In 2014, May delivered a speech to the , in which she criticised aspects of the culture of the police force. In the speech, she said: On 9 December 2010, in the wake of violent in central London against increases to higher-education , May praised the actions of the police in controlling the demonstrations but was described by ' as "under growing political pressure" due to her handling of the protests. 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." She rejected their use following the 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." 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".

Anti-social behaviour

In July 2010, May proposed to review the previous Government's legislation signalling the abolition of the "" (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. Former Labour Home Secretaries (who introduced ASBOs) and expressed their disapproval of the proposals.

Drug policy

In July 2013, May decided to ban the stimulant , against the advice of the (ACMD). The council reached the conclusion that there was "insufficient evidence" it caused health problems. 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. 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. Liberal Democrat minister accused May of suppressing proposals to treat rather than prosecute minor drug offenders from a report into drug policy commissioned by the Home Office. 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.


In 2010, May promised to bring the level of net migration down to less than 100,000. ''The Independent'' reported in February 2015, "The (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." In total, 624,000 people 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." In May 2012 she told the ' of her intention "to create here in Britain a for illegal migration," May rejected the European Union's proposal of . 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". 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.

Family migration

In June 2012, Theresa May announced that new restrictions would be introduced to reduce the number of non- family migrants. The changes were mostly intended to apply to new applicants after 9 July 2012. The newly introduced rules came into effect on 9 July 2012 allowing only those British citizens earning more than £18,600 to bring their spouses or their children 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 5 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, or , they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK. The was concerned about the immigration issue and therefore addressed the PM in Parliament as to whether she had examined the impact on communities and families on modest incomes, but it received no direct response. The human rights group concluded that the new rules showed scant regard to the impact they would have on genuine families. The 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 s from the UK.

Deportation decisions

At the Conservative Party Conference in 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. Amnesty International said May's comments only fuelled "myths and misconceptions" about the Human Rights Act and Justice Secretary subsequently called May's comments "laughable and childlike." In June 2012, May was found in 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. May responded to a Supreme Court decision in November 2013 to overturn her predecessor '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. May was accused by of being willing to allow someone to die "to score a political point" over the deportation of mentally ill Nigerian man Isa Muazu. 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. 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 .

Abu Qatada deportation

On 7 July 2013, , a radical cleric arrested in 2002, was deported to after a decade-long battle that had cost the nation £1.7 million in legal fees, and several prior Home Secretaries had not resolved. The deportation was the result of a treaty negotiated by May in April 2013, under which Jordan agreed to give Qatada a fair trial, by not using evidence that may have been obtained against him through torture. May pointed to Qatada's deportation as a triumph, guaranteeing in September 2013 that "he will not be returning to the ", 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". The Qatada deportation also shaped May's views on the and , 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.

"Go Home" advertisements

In August 2013, the Home Office engaged in an advertising campaign directed at illegal immigrants. The advertisements, in the form of mobile advertising hoardings on the back of lorries, told illegal immigrants to "go home or face arrest", with an image of a person in handcuffs, and were deployed in six London boroughs with substantial ethnic minority populations. They were widely criticised as creating a for members of ethnic minority groups. The shadow Home Secretary, , described their language as being reminiscent of that used by the in the 1970s. An adjudication by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said that "the claim hat 106 arrests were made last weekwas misleading and had not been substantiated" was followed by the advertisements being withdrawn after being banned by the ASA.

Passport backlog

In mid 2014, the Passport Office faced a backlog in developing processing passport applications, with around 30,000 applications hit by delays. David Cameron suggested this had come about due to the Passport Office's receiving an "above normal" 300,000-rise in applications. 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. Around £674,000 was paid to staff who helped clear the backlog.

Windrush scandal

In April 2018, May's became the focus of British politics in what came to be known as the , in which members of the of Afro-Caribbean Britons were threatened with deportation by the Home Office and in at least 83 cases, illegally deported from the UK. The policy also affected the lives of many thousands of people who were in the United Kingdom legally by causing them to be sacked from employment, preventing access to health care, illegally demanding money, exiling them and preventing their return to the UK, and leaving them destitute. The scandal led to the resignation of May's successor Amber Rudd as Home Secretary, and her replacement by . Responding to questions in Parliament on the Windrush scandal on 25 April, May maintained that the hostile environment policy would remain government policy.

Birmingham schools row

In June 2014, an inflamed public argument arose between Home Office and Ministers about responsibility for . Prime Minister intervened to resolve the row, insisting that May sack her (now Hill) for releasing on May's website a confidential letter to May's colleagues, and that , the Education Secretary, apologise to the Home Office's , , for uncomplimentary briefings of him appearing on the front page of '.

Minister for Women and Equalities

May held the office of in parallel to her office of Home Secretary from 2010 to September 2012, when this role was taken over by .Maria Miller becomes culture secretary
, ''The Guardian'', 4 September 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
May's appointment as Minister for Women and Equalities was controversial, and was met with criticism by many in the due to May's record of consistently opposing from 1997 to 2004: she voted against equalising the age of consent in 1998, she spoke in favour of in 2001, and she spoke against greater in 2002. May later stated, during an appearance on the BBC's ' in 2010, that she had "changed her mind" on gay adoption. Writing for ' in June 2010, May detailed proposals for improving LGBT rights including measures to tackle homophobia in sport, advocating British society's need for "cultural change". On 2 July 2010, May stated she would be supporting the previous Labour Government's Anti-Discrimination Laws enshrined in the despite having previously opposed it. The Equality Act came into effect in England, Wales and Scotland on 1 October 2010. She did however announce that a clause she dubbed "'s Law" which would have required to consider how they can reduce socio-economic inequalities when making decisions about spending and services would be scrapped on the grounds that it was "unworkable".

Prime Minister

Leadership election

On 30 June 2016, May announced her candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party to replace , who resigned following the outcome of the in which 52% of voters voted in favour of leaving the EU. May emphasised the need for unity within the party regardless of positions on leaving the EU, saying 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". An opinion poll that day found 47% of people choosing May as their preferred candidate to be prime minister. May's supporters included a number of Cabinet ministers, such as , , , , and . She received the most votes in the first round of voting on 5 July, receiving support from 165 MPs, with rivals receiving 66 votes and 48. The two candidates with the fewest votes, and , immediately announced their support for May. May came in first place in the second ballot on 7 July with an overwhelming majority of 199 MPs, compared with 84 for Leadsom and 46 for Gove, who was eliminated. 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. On 11 July, Leadsom announced her withdrawal from the leadership contest hours after May had made her first official campaign speech, saying her lack of support amongst Conservative MPs compared to May would be too great a hindrance to becoming a credible prime minister. As the sole remaining candidate, May was formally declared Leader of the Conservative Party that evening.


On 13 July 2016, two days after becoming Leader of the Conservative Party, May was appointed Prime Minister by , becoming only the second female British prime minister after . Addressing the world's media outside , May said that she was "honoured and humbled" to become prime minister. On becoming prime minister, May became the first woman to have held two of the . Responding to some calls for an early general election, "sources close to Mrs May" said there was no need for such an election. In a speech after her appointment, May emphasised the term "Unionist" in the name of the , reminding all of "the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland." By 15 July, May had travelled to to meet with to reinforce the bond between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. "I'm coming here to show my commitment to preserving this special union that has endured for centuries," she explained.

Cabinet changes

May's first Cabinet appointment was described by as "one of the most sweeping government reshuffles for decades", and called "a brutal cull" by '. Nine of Cameron's ministers, including several prominent members, were sacked or resigned from their posts. The early appointments were interpreted both as an effort to reunite the Conservative Party in the wake of the UK's vote to leave the EU and as "a shift to the right," according to '. ITV's Political Editor commented: "Her rhetoric is more left-wing than Cameron's was, her cabinet is more right-wing than his was." Although May had supported remaining in the EU, she appointed several of the most prominent advocates of to key Cabinet positions responsible for negotiating the , including as , as , and as , the latter two being new positions. Other key appointees included as and as .

First term (2016–2017)

The delayed the final approval for the in July 2016, a project which May had objected to when she was Home Secretary. Her wrote an article in 2015 to oppose 's involvement in sensitive sectors. He said that the government was "selling our to China" without concerns and "the Government seems intent on ignoring the evidence and presumably the advice of the security and intelligence agencies". In July 2016, when asked her whether she would be prepared to authorise the killing of a hundred thousand innocent persons by a nuclear strike; during the " debate" inside the , May said "Yes. And I have to say to the honourable gentleman: the whole point of a deterrent is that our enemies need to know that we would be prepared to use it. Unlike that we could have a nuclear deterrent but not actually be willing to use it, which come from the ." On 20 July, May attended her first since taking office, then afterwards made her first , visiting Berlin for talks with German Chancellor . During the visit, May said that she would not trigger —the process for withdrawing from the European Union—before 2017, suggesting it would take time for the UK to negotiate a "sensible and orderly departure" from the EU. However, although Merkel said it was right for the UK to "take a moment" before beginning the process, she urged May to provide more clarity on a timetable for negotiations. Shortly before travelling to Berlin, May had also announced that in the wake of the referendum, Britain would relinquish the , which passes between member states every six months on a rotation basis, and that the UK had been scheduled to hold in the second half of 2017. May supported the and defended selling arms to , which is accused of committing war crimes in Yemen, insisting that Britain's close relationship with Saudi Arabia was "helping keep people on the streets of Britain safe". On 21 January 2017, following the as , the announced that May would meet the President on 27 January, making her the first foreign leader to meet Trump since he took office on 20 January. In a joint press conference, May indicated an interest in increased trade between the United States and the United Kingdom. She also affirmed a desire to maintain an American involvement in NATO. May was criticised by members of major parties, including her own, for refusing to condemn Trump's , as well as for inviting Trump to a state visit with . In January 2017, when it came to light that a Trident test had malfunctioned in June 2016, May refused to confirm whether she knew about the incident when she addressed parliament. May's Chancellor, , continued government policies of freezing benefits in his 2017 budget.

2017 general election

On 18 April, May announced that she would call a parliamentary vote to hold an on 8 June, saying that it was the "only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead". May had previously ruled out an early election on five occasions over nine months. The election was the first snap election held under the after MPs gave May the two-thirds required. Unveiling the Conservative manifesto in on 18 May, May promised a "mainstream government that would deliver for mainstream Britain". It proposed to balance the budget by 2025, raise spending on the NHS by £8bn per annum and on schools by £4bn per annum by 2022, remove the ban on new s, the , replace the "triple lock" with a "double lock" and require executive pay to be approved by a vote of shareholders. It also contained May's previously-announced flagship energy reform of a on standard variable tariffs. It dropped the 2015 pledge to not raise income tax or national insurance contributions but maintained a commitment to freeze . New s for infrastructure, rules to prevent foreign takeovers of "critical national infrastructure" and were also proposed. The manifesto was noted for its intervention in industry, lack of tax cuts and increased spending commitments on public services. On Brexit it committed to leaving the single market and while seeking a "deep and special partnership" and promised a vote in parliament on the final agreement. The manifesto also proposed reforms to that would raise the threshold for free care from £23,250 to £100,000 while including property in the means test and permitting deferred payment after death. After attracting substantial media attention, four days after the manifesto launch May stated that the proposed social care reforms would now include an "absolute limit" on costs in contrast to the rejection of a cap in the manifesto. She criticised the "fake" portrayal of the policy in recent days by Labour and other critics who had termed it a "dementia tax". editor called the policy change a "U-turn". ''The Financial Times'' contrasted her "" leadership slogan with her own record of nine rapid U-turns claiming she was "making a habit of retreating from policies." The general election in June resulted in a hung parliament, prompting her to broker a with 's (DUP), involving £1 billion of additional public funding for Northern Ireland.

Second term (2017–2019)

Less than two weeks after the 2017 State Opening of Parliament, May ordered a full into the . For this she was widely praised as successive governments going back to the 1980s had refused such an inquiry, some though speculated that May had simply been forced to announce the inquiry after a group legal action and news of fresh evidence were brought by Jason Evans. Additionally, Andy Burnham had threatened to take evidence to the police if an inquiry were not announced. With over 1,000 core participants, the is the biggest public inquiry ever held in the UK.


In November 2017, May said the of and police against the minority in "looks like ethnic cleansing".Theresa May vows to tackle 'inhuman destruction of Rohingya people'
. . 14 November 2017.
According to May, "it is something for which the Burmese authorities – and especially the military – must take full responsibility." From the 2017 general election to December 2017, May suffered no defeats in whipped votes in the House of Commons. On 13 December 2017, May lost a vote on the by 309 votes to 305, due to 11 Conservatives voting against the government, including who was then vice-chairman of the Conservative Party.


May accused of "threatening the international order", "seeking to weaponise information" and "deploying its state-run media organisations to plant fake stories". She mentioned Russia's meddling in in 2017,
. ''The Independent''. 13 November 2017.
after German government officials and security experts said there was no Russian interference.


May promised to confront on human rights but was praised in -controlled for "sidestepping" during her first official visit to the country.China applauds ‘Auntie’ Theresa May for sidestepping human rights issue
. '. 2 February 2018.
The ' said: "For the Prime Minister, the losses outweigh the gains if she appeases the British media at the cost of the visit’s friendly atmosphere."

Assassination plot

In 2017, terrorist was foiled in a plot to assassinate May at .


In May 2018, during a three-day state visit to the UK by Turkish president , May declared that Britain is a "true friend" of , but she added that "It is important that in defense of democracy, which has been facing extraordinary pressures from the , instability across the border from Syria and from , Turkey does not lose sight of the values it is seeking to defend."

Contempt of Parliament

On 4 December 2018, on a motion passed by MPs by 311 to 293 votes, the was found in ; the first to be found in contempt in history. The vote was triggered by the government failing to lay before Parliament any legal advice on the proposed withdrawal agreement on the terms of the , after a for a return was unanimously agreed to by the House of Commons on 13 November 2018. The government then agreed to publish the full legal advice for that was given to the by the during negotiations with the .

Votes of no confidence

On 12 December 2018, May faced a in her leadership over opposition to her from the Conservative Party, after the number of Conservative MPs exceeded the 48 no-confidence letter threshold that the , Sir required for one to be held. May won the vote with 200 Conservative MPs voting for her, compared to 117 voting against. As part of her speech to the before the no-confidence vote was opened, it was reported that May conceded that she would step down as prime minister after delivering and would not lead the Conservative Party into the in exchange for Conservative MPs voting to have confidence in her leadership so that she would be able to keep the party, Parliament and the UK stable during the final stages of Brexit. May later confirmed this to , after meeting EU leaders, including in . On 17 December 2018 in the , the and , , tabled a in May's prime ministership, citing May's refusal to set the date for the on her Brexit deal before Christmas, and instead pushing it back to mid-January. The following day the refused to allow time for the motion to be debated. , , confirmed that they were under no obligation to do so. Following the defeat of May's Brexit deal on 15 January 2019, Corbyn tabled a in the Government, to be voted on by parliament the following evening. The motion was defeated by 325 votes to 306; a majority of 19.

Brexit deal defeats

On 15 January 2019, May's government was defeated in the House of Commons by a margin of 230 votes (202 in favour and 432 opposed) in a vote on her deal to leave the European Union. It was the largest majority against a United Kingdom government in history. On 14 February the same year, May suffered another Commons defeat after MPs voted by 303 to 258 – a majority of 45 – against a motion endorsing the government's Brexit negotiating strategy. On 12 March, May was again defeated in the Commons by 149 votes (242 in favour and 391 against) on her latest deal after she secured last-minute concessions from the EU. On 29 March, May was again defeated by 58 votes in the Commons (286 in favour and 344 against) on the withdrawal deal but not the political declaration.


On 27 March 2019 at a meeting of the , May confirmed that she will "not lead the UK in the next stage of negotiations", meaning she was expected to resign after the third meaningful vote, if it had passed successfully. However, no date was stated, and her reported wording was ambiguous and thus carried no binding force. On 29 March, the third meaningful vote was defeated, and while May did not state anything in regards to standing down, Corbyn stated that if May could not find an alternative to her deal "she must go, not at an indeterminate date in the future but now." On 22 April it was announced that the leaders of 70 s had signed a petition calling for a vote of no confidence. Under party rules an Extraordinary General Meeting must be convened if one is demanded by 65 associations. The non-binding vote, to be determined by 800 of the party's senior officials, would be the first time such an instance has occurred. On 24 April, the party's ruled out changing the leadership challenge rules, but its chair, , asked for clarity on when May would step down from office. On 24 May she confirmed that she would resign as on 7 June, stating, "it is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead ." She continued to serve as prime minister until she tendered her resignation to on 24 July. This coincided with the arrival of as prime minister, who was by the Conservative Party membership. By constitutional convention May did not step down until she assured the Queen that Johnson would be able to command the confidence of the House of Commons. In one of May's last , , the Labour MP for , urged May not to "cut and run" and instead reconsider her resignation. May responded by saying she would return to the role of a backbench MP after leaving office. On 24 July 2019, May ended her consecutive service at the frontbench since 1998 when she was appointed Shadow Spokesman for Schools, Disabled People and Women.

Ministerial resignations

May's premiership had 51 resignations with 33 relating to Brexit. These included 12 departures from the Cabinet. The pace and number of resignations have been described as 'unprecedented' by the Institute for Government, with resignations impacting the functioning of the government. In less than three years, May received more resignations than (11 years) or (10 years). The described May's Cabinet as exhibiting the 'worst cabinet ill-discipline in history'.

Public opinion

May had a high approval rating during her first week as prime minister. The results of an Ipsos MORI survey released in July 2016 indicated that 55% of those surveyed believed that May was a suitable PM while only 23% believed that the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn would make a good prime minister. A ''ComRes'' poll taken in September 2016 after her election suggested May was seen as substantially more "in touch with ordinary British people" than her predecessor David Cameron and a majority of voters saw her as "the right person to unite the country". At the beginning of 2017, nearly six months after becoming prime minister, a found May was the most popular UK politician with a net rating of +9 which was described as the longest honeymoon period enjoyed by any sitting Conservative prime minister since the end of the Second World War. The Conservative Party had a 21-point lead over Labour in a poll released the day before May announced a snap election but this lead narrowed substantially. In mid-June, following the election, a YouGov poll showed that May's popularity had dropped to a rating of −34. In April 2018, May had a higher approval rating than Corbyn for the first time since the general election, leading him by −13 to −23. Plans to reform came to dominate the Conservative election campaign during the 2017 Snap Election, with some arguing it ultimately cost May her majority. May's promised on the future of adult social care was plagued by frequent delays, ultimately never materialising during her premiership. A December 2019 poll by charity Hft found that 59% of social care providers in England believed that the situation in social care worsened under May's premiership, compared to just 3% who said it was slightly better.

Political positions

May has identified herself with the position within her party. 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. Commenting on May's debut as Home Secretary, Anne Perkins of ' observed that "she'll be nobody's stooge", while of ' predicted her to be "the rising star" of the Coalition Government. , then with ''The Guardian'', praised May as showing managerial acumen. Describing her as a , the ' 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 . Conversely, in ', Rebecca Glover of the Policy Innovation Research Unit contrasted May to , claiming that she was "staunchly more conservative, more anti-immigration, and more isolationist" than he was. 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 (although she later claimed that the last pledge was not to be mandatory), policies that ''The Guardian'' describes as going further than the manifesto. After she became prime minister, May's first speech espoused the left, with a promise to combat the "burning injustice" in British society and to create a union "between all of our citizens" and promising to be an advocate for the "ordinary working-class family" and not for the affluent in the UK. "The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives ... When we take the big calls, we’ll think not of the powerful, but you. When we pass new laws we’ll listen not to the mighty, but to you. When it comes to taxes we’ll prioritise not the wealthy but you." May has described herself as a personal supporter of fox hunting with hounds, saying that foxes' numbers had to be controlled and that hunting them with dogs was the most humane way to do it. The Conservative manifesto for the 2017 election included a pledge to hold a parliamentary vote to repeal the , which prohibits a range of hunting activities. After the Conservatives' manifesto for the 2017 election was released, some people, including of ', called her a "", saying that she had moved her party to the in politics. ' called her policies "Mayism", saying that Mayism was "a working-class conservatism openly critical of the "cult of individualism" and globalization". May praised the former Prime Minister and has a portrait of Churchill on the wall of her study. May's spokesman said: "The prime minister has quoted and referenced Sir Winston Churchill on many occasion and acknowledged him as one of the great prime ministers of the 20th century." May welcomed the arrest of WikiLeaks founder , saying that "no one is above the law." Assange had fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 after being accused of sexual assault in Sweden. He is also wanted by the US for "conspiracy to commit computer intrusion" relating to the Wikileaks release of classified material in 2010, including footage of US soldiers killing civilians in Iraq.

Foreign policy

In 2003, May and in 2013 voted in favour of in the . The delayed the final approval for the in July 2016, a project which May had objected to when she was Home Secretary. Her wrote an article in 2015 to oppose People's Republic of China's involvement in sensitive sectors. He said that the government was "selling our to China" without concerns and "the Government seems intent on ignoring the evidence and presumably the advice of the security and intelligence agencies." Politicians and human rights activists urged Theresa May's government to vote against Saudi Arabian retention of the membership of the . 's UK Foreign Policy Programme Director Polly Truscott said: "Rather than turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s continuing bully tactics, the UK should publicly hold the Saudi authorities to account for its appalling human rights record and the ongoing and should stop selling weapons to Saudi as a matter of urgency." May defended selling arms to Saudi Arabia stating that close ties with the country "keep people on the streets of Britain safe".

Economic policy

Prior to her premiership, May outlined plans to backtrack on the longstanding government plan to achieve a surplus by 2020, following the UK's . With uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook, has suggested that the government's may be used to "reset" economic policy. In 2015, while May was Home Secretary, an 18% funding cut in the police force had taken place with the loss of around 20,000 police officers. Before the and after the , she was warned by a senior police officer that the cuts on the force and risked terror attacks in the city due to the lack of resources to do proper intelligence and anti-terrorist measures. In May and Hammond's 2017 budget, continued government policies were confirmed regarding freezing benefits. May's government published a in November 2016 which considered forcing companies to reveal the difference between what their CEOs are paid and what their ordinary workers are paid. On 1 January 2019 new regulations came into force for UK listed companies with over 250 employees to annually disclose the ratio of their CEO's pay to the median, lower quartile, and upper quartile pay of their UK employees.

Workers' representatives

Before her premiership began, May said that she planned to have workers represented on company boards, saying "If I'm prime minister ... we're going to have not just consumers represented on company boards, but workers as well." May aimed to put workers' and consumers' representatives on boards to make them more accountable. , a journalist at ', wrote in July "Fundamental principles of Britain's boardroom governance are being rethought. It is a very welcome development. In the more enlightened quarters of the UK corporate world, they can see that boardroom pay has eroded trust in business." Workers' representatives it appeared, would have made UK companies more like those in Germany and France. May was accused of backtracking in November 2016 when she said that firms would not be forced to adopt the proposal, saying "there are a number of ways in which that can be achieved".


Following the impact of ' in 2017, the May administration outlined plans to approve further green policy. A particular focus has been on plastic and its impact on the environment. In March 2018, May announced plans for a plastic deposit scheme modelled on a similar policy in Norway to boost recycling.

EU and Brexit

May publicly stated her support for 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. 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. Some in David Cameron's ministry likened May to a "submarine" on the issue of due to her perceived indifference towards the referendum and the EU. In a leaked recording prior to the Brexit referendum, May said, May also said Britain was more secure as part of the due to the European arrest warrant and Europe-wide information sharing among other factors. She said, "There are definitely things we can do as members of the European Union that I think keep us more safe". May's public reticence during the referendum campaign resulted in tensions with David Cameron and his pro-EU team. Following the referendum and her election as party leader, May signalled that she would support full withdrawal from the EU and prioritise immigration controls over remaining within the single market, leading some to contrast this with her earlier remarks on the earlier economic arguments. She later went on to say before the that she would be willing to leave the EU without a deal, saying that "no deal is better than a bad deal. We have to be prepared to walk out". The leader, , said it was "disappointing that Theresa May lacked the political courage to warn the public as she did a bunch of bankers in private about the devastating economic effects of Brexit. More disappointing is that now she is supposedly in charge, she is blithely ignoring her own warnings and is prepared to inflict an act of monumental self-harm on the UK economy by pulling Britain out of the single market." for the group said, "It's good to know that privately Theresa May thinks what many of us have been saying publicly for a long time, leaving the single market would be bad for businesses and for our economy. Now she is prime minister, Theresa May is in an unrivalled position to act on her previous concerns, starting by putting membership of the single market at the heart of her government's negotiating position." On 22 September 2017, May officially made public the details of her Brexit proposal during a speech in , urging the European Union to maintain a transitional period of two years after Brexit during which trade terms remain unaltered. During this period, the UK would also continue to honour its budget commitments of about €10 billion per annum, and accept immigration from Europe. Her speech was criticised by leading Eurosceptic . The European Union's Brexit negotiator welcomed May's proposal as "constructive," but said it also "must be translated into negotiating positions to make meaningful progress." May did not initially wish to give MPs a vote on withdrawal from the . stated "in 2016 MPs aren't asking for a veto but they do want a say and we hope the Prime Minister will remember her earlier words". and also called for more parliamentary involvement. In November 2016, the ruled in that parliament must vote on the decision to leave the EU but May appealed to the . , Scottish has joined the case as did representatives from Wales and Northern Ireland. Sturgeon felt that the should also consent to the UK triggering of Article 50. She said she was not seeking to prevent England and Wales leaving but wanted to preserve Scotland's place in the EU. In the end the Supreme Court required a vote in the UK parliament. May was accused of not having a plan if Brexit talks broke down. There were fears that if talks failed Britain could be left trading under rules which it was feared by some analysts would seriously damage jobs and livelihoods in Britain and Europe. May's ministers repeatedly promised to walk away from a bad final deal but, it was argued by some commentators, had no plans for how to manage without a deal. described May's Brexit strategy as "an accident waiting to happen". He said completing Brexit was "guaranteed" to take a decade and alleged May's hopes of a trade deal made to order meant that instability in the next few months was "quite likely". In late October 2018, the National Audit Office claimed that it was already too late to prepare the necessary Irish border security checks in the event of a No-deal scenario—a weakness that could be exploited by criminals. On 5 February 2019, May gave a speech to business leaders in Belfast to address Brexit stating the United Kingdom's relationship with Ireland was closer than the 26 other members of the EU. She affirmed the government's "absolute" commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and stated that Britain would seek to have no hard border in Northern Ireland. It was reported in 2020 that former MI6 operative accused May, while Boris Johnson was foreign secretary, of ignoring claims that Russia may have secretly funded Brexit. Steele accuses May's government of selling British interests short by not taking matters further: “In this case, political considerations seemed to outweigh national security interests. If so, in my view, HMG made a serious mistake in balancing matters of strategic importance to our country.” In July 2020 the Intelligence and Security Committee report on Russia was released. It stated that the British government and intelligence agencies failed to conduct any assessment of Russian attempts to interfere with the 2016 Brexit referendum. It stated the government “had not seen or sought evidence of successful interference in UK democratic processes”. Steward Hosie, SNP member said “The report reveals that no one in government knew if Russia interfered in or sought to influence the referendum because they did not want to know,”. However, the report stated no firm conclusion could be ascertained on whether the Kremlin had or had not successfully interfered in the referendum.


In 2005, May co-founded the mentoring and pressure group '. This group and May's personal efforts have been credited with increasing the number of Conservative women MPs and with supporting them. In government she lobbied for improvements to maternity leave, and as Home Secretary she acted on and introduced a law on . However, she has been criticised for the financial cuts made by her government, which have been claimed to have had the greatest impact on poor and vulnerable women.

Same-sex relationships

In 1998, May voted against , and was absent for the vote on the repeal of in 2003. In May 2012, however, May expressed support for the introduction of by recording a video for the campaign, in which she stated "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". In May 2013, May voted in favour of the , which legalised same-sex marriage in .


After leaving , May took her place on the backbenches, remaining an MP to "devote her full time" to her constituency of , . In the she was as the constituency's MP. On 30 September 2019, May divulged, at the Henley Literary Festival in , that she was "thinking about writing a book", saying "It has been suggested to me that people involved in significant events should write about them so historians can look back and see what those who were at the centre of events were thinking, why they took decisions and so forth". When interviewed, she admitted that she had not read her predecessor 's memoir . She also said she had "no regrets" over her political career. In May 2020, May criticised the when he broke during the . She abstained in the vote on the second lockdown in Parliament. May has been mentioned as a possible candidate to replace NATO Secretary-General following his expected retirement in 2022. In June 2021, British Secretary of State for Defence expressed support for a potential May candidacy, saying "she would be an excellent candidate.” On 13 July 2021, May, who was one of 24 Conservative MPs, against her party, defying the whip for the first time in 24 years, over the government's proposal to cut its foreign aid budget. She criticized the government, saying in an address to Parliament, "We made a promise to the poorest people in the world. The Government have broken that promise."

Personal life

May has been married to Sir , an currently employed by , since 6 September 1980. It has been reported that former Prime Minister of Pakistan introduced the two during their time at Oxford. May has expressed regret that she and her husband have not been able to have children. The Mays are passionate , and they regularly spend their holidays hiking in the . May is also a fan, stating that Sir was one of her sporting heroes. She also enjoys cooking, and has said that she owns 100 cookery books. Philip has said that she "is a very good cook". May and her husband reside in the Thames village of which is within her constituency. May is a member of the and regularly worships at church (usually at ) on Sunday. The daughter of an Anglican , 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". May is known for a love of fashion, and in particular of distinctive shoes; she wore leopard-print shoes at her 'Nasty Party' speech in 2002, as well as her final Cabinet meeting as Home Secretary in 2016. On ' in 2014, she chose a subscription to as her luxury item. However, she has been critical of the media focusing on her fashion instead of her achievements as a politician. May was diagnosed with of in November 2012. She is treated with daily injections. Following her husband's in the , she has been entitled to be styled as Lady May.

Honours and arms

Commonwealth honours

; Commonwealth honours

Foreign honours

; Foreign honours


; University degrees ; Chancellor, visitor, governor, and fellowships

Honorary degrees

;Honorary degrees

Freedom of the City

* 30 August 2018: .


Prior to and since her appointment to Government, May has actively supported a variety of campaigns on policy issues in her constituency and at the national level of politics. She has spoken at the promoting the cross-party issue of gender equality. She is the Patron of Conservative Association, in Berkshire (the county of her Maidenhead constituency). Her activism has earned her a number of awards. She was nominated as one of the Society's Inspiring Women of 2006. In February 2013, 's ' described her as Britain's second-most powerful woman after Queen ; May was Home Secretary at the time, and the most senior woman in that government. In 2001, she was made a of the . In September 2017, she was listed by ' as the second most powerful woman in the world, behind .


See also



External links

Constituency website of Theresa May MPProfile
at the Conservative Party website * {{DEFAULTSORT:May, Theresa Women prime ministers