The style and substance of UK Prime Minister Theresa May. (Image: vogue.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk, popsugar.com, fashionmomentswiththeresamay.tumblr.com, theguardian.com)
The name Theresa May has been embellishing headlines across the world in recent days. The reason is that this 59-year-old leader of the Conservative Party has replaced David Cameron as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as of 13 July 2016.
Theresa May making her first address as UK Prime Minister. (Image : theguardian.com)
The second female to stand as the UK’s prime minister after Margaret Thatcher, May will have the world’s eyes fixed on her as she is handed the monumental task of overseeing BREXIT negotiations, Britain’s exit from the EU.
A headline in the Guardian days before May’s official appointment described her as ‘Unpredictable, moralistic and heading to No 10’. This silver-haired power lady has indeed shown her toughness (often hailed as her political hallmark) in her bold reshuffling of the Cabinet she now presides over.
Besides sacking nine Cabinet ministers, appointing Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary and women as heads of half of the great offices of state, May has made her political statement in a decisive manner. This almost clinical ruthlessness is probably the very trait that has ensured her survival among a small group of women perched in the higher ranks of the Conservative Party for 17 years.
It is also her fearlessness of apparent party powers that propelled her to confront them in a 2002 conference, saying point-blank that "you know what some people call us - the nasty party", in an audacious bid for change within the party.
So, who is Theresa May, now UK’s Prime Minister and one of the most powerful politicians in the Western world as we speak?
10 Facts About Theresa May
1. May, born Theresa Mary Brasier in October 1956, is the only daughter of a Church of England vicar, Rev Hubert Brasier and his wife Zaidee. She would lose both parents a year apart shortly after graduating from St Hugh’s College, Oxford.
2. She met her husband Philip May, President of the Oxford Union then, while both were undergraduates at Oxford University. The late Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, is said to have introduced them at a Tory student disco, They were married in 1980.
Theresa May with husband Philip May. (Image : theguardian.com)
3. May graduated with a degree in Geography, and commenced her working life at the Bank of England before landing a position at the Association for Payment Clearing Services.
Theresa May (circled in yellow) with her Oxford '74 class. (Image : telegraph.co.uk)
4. She is the second longest serving Home Secretary of the UK in the last 100 years, where she managed national security, immigration, police and other issues for more than six years starting from 2010.
Theresa May as Home Secretary in charge of reforming the police force. (Image : www.bbc.com)
5. She started her official political career as a Merton local councilor before rising to become MP for Maidenhead in 1997.
6. May has styled herself in embodying a confidante figure plus role model for potential female MPs and was quoted as saying to them "there is always a seat out there with your name on it" before the 2015 election.
7. She carved a reputation early on at Westminster for her flamboyant choice of footwear, the likes of leopard-print kitten heels and others, while naming a Vogue lifetime subscription as the luxury item she would bring with her to a desert island.
The shoes favoured by Teresa May. (Image : www.footwearnews.com)
The fashion of Teresa May. (Image : thedailymail.co.uk, telegraph.co.uk, glamour.com)
8. May cites a bowl of crispy chips as her "guilty pleasure", with other interests such as cooking (she owns more than 100 recipe books) and mountain walking in Wales and Switzerland.
9. In 2013, May was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, requiring twice-a-day insulin injections.
10. May is the oldest UK prime minister to be appointed since James Callaghan in 1976 and is also the only prime minister besides Ted Heath not to have children.
What People Who Know Theresa May Say About Her
Pat Frankland (May’s uni mate): “She wanted to be the first woman prime minister back in our Oxford days and she was very irritated when Maggie Thatcher beat her to it. It was just – ‘I wanted to be first and she got there first.”
Teresa May making her way to No 10 Downing Street. (Image : theguardian.com)
Former Conservative chancellor Ken Clarke: “May’s a bloody difficult woman despite being good at her job , and a bit like Margaret Thatcher.”
UK's past and present Prime MInister: Margaret Thatcher and Teresa May. (Image : theguardian.com)
Former Lib Dem minister David Laws: "I first met her in 2010. I was sitting in my Treasury office, overlooking St James's Park, me in one armchair and the home secretary in the other, with no officials present. She looked nervous. I felt she was surprised to find herself as home secretary. Frankly, I didn't expect her to last more than a couple of years."
Former deputy prime minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg: "You know, I've grown to rather like Theresa May... 'She's a bit of an Ice Maiden and has no small talk whatsoever - none.”
May’s opponent in the Commons as shadow home secretary, Labour MP Yvette Cooper: "I respect her style - it is steady and serious. She is authoritative in parliament - superficial attacks on her bounce off. The flip side is that she is not fleet of foot when crises build, she digs in her heels."
Teresa May holding court with the press. (Image : theguardian.com)
The press: “In a political party that struggles to shake off its elitist, old Etonian, yah-boo-sucks reputation, May represents a different kind of politician: a calm headmistress in a chamber full of over-excitable public schoolboys. She holds herself at one remove... her obdurate stance has earned her some vociferous critics. There are those who claim that, while she takes care never to sully her own hands with the grubby business of political backstabbing, she will send out her team to issue ferocious briefings against her rivals."
Ex-Prime Minister David Cameron: “It is clear Theresa May has the overwhelming support of the Conservative parliamentary party. I'm also delighted that Theresa May will be the next prime minister. She is strong, she is competent, she's more than able to provide the leadership the country is going to need in the years ahead and she will have my full support."
Teresa May with David Cameron. (Image : spectator.co.uk)
This is one woman who has not been afraid to step up to assume leadership of the UK facing one of its most challenging international relations manoeuvres in recent history. May said, “Brexit means Brexit. The campaign was fought. The vote was held. Turnout was high, and the public gave their verdict.", shattering hopes of a second referendum on Britain leaving the European Union. This is indicative of May’s strong moral stance in tackling issues concerning the state, especially in light of the fact that she was actually part of the Remain camp. Time will tell how Brexit eventually pans out under May’s administration.
Curbs On Foreign Students
Rules for foreign and non-EU students at UK’s Further Education colleges may soon change under the Theresa May-led government, a repercussion that could unfold in reference to then-Home Secretary May’s immigration mission plan as reported last year. Foreign students outside of the EU will not be able to work while studying in Britain. Besides that, once their course ends, they are compelled to leave and may only apply for a working visa after that. This is to prevent colleges from being used as a 'back door to a British work visa', according to ministers.
Women In Power — Past, Present, Future
Current Heads Of Governments (Prime Minister/Chancellor)
Theresa May (United Kingdom) - 13 July 2016 to present
Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar) – 6 April 2016 to present
Beata Szydlo (Poland) - 16 November 2015 to present
Saara Kuugongelwa (Namibia) – 21 March 2015 to present
Erna Solberg (Norway) – 16 October 2013 to present
Sheikh Hasina (Bangladesh) – 12 June 1996 to 15 July 2001/6 January 2009 to present
Angela Merkel (Germany) – 22 November 2005 to present
Clockwise from top left: Beata Szydlo, Angela Merkel, Saara Kuugongelwa, Sheikh Hasina, Erna Solberg, Aung San Suu Kyi. (Image : wiadomosci.wp.pl, bundeskanzlerin.de, informante.web.na, desibucket.com, uapress.info bbc.com)
Current Heads Of States (President & Others)
Doris Bures (Austria) - 8 July 2016 to present
Tsai Ing-wen (Taiwan) - 20 May 2016 to present
Hilda Heine (Marshall Islands) - 28 January 2016 to present
Bidhya Devi Bhandari (Nepal) - 29 October 2015 to present
Ameenah Gurib (Mauritius) - 5 June 2015 to present
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (Croatia) - 19 February 2015 to present
Marie Louise Coleiro Preca (Malta) - 4 April 2014 to present
Michelle Bachelet (Chile) - 11 March 2014 to present
Park Geun-hye (South Korea) - 25 February 2013 to present
Dilma Rousseff (Brazil) - 1 January 2011 to present
Simonetta Sommaruga (Switzerland) - 1 November 2010 to present
Dalia Grybauskaité (Lithuania) - 12 July 2009 to present
Doris Leuthard (Switzerland) - 1 August 2006 to present
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia) - 16 January 2006 to present
Clockwise from top left: Park Geun-hye, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Tsai Ing-wen, Doris Bures, Dilma Rousseff. (Image : huffingtonpost.com, one.org, atimes.com, frodo.at, en.wikipedia.com)
Notable Heads Of Governments From The Past
Sirimavo Bandaranaike (Ceylon/Sri Lanka) –1960 to 1965 / 1970 to 1977 / 1994 to 2000
Indira Gandhi (India) –1966 to 1977 / 1980 to 1984
Golda Meir (Israel) – 1969 to 1974
Margaret Thatcher (United Kingdom) – 1979 to 1990
Dame Eugenia Charles (Dominica) – 1980 to 1995
Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan) – 1988 to 1990 / 1993 to 1996
Khaleda Zia (Bangladesh) – 1991 to 1996 / 2001 to 2006
Helen Clark (New Zealand) - 1999 to 2008
Luisa Diogo (Mozambique) - 2004 to 2010
Clockwise from top left: Khaleda Zia, Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto, Helen Clark, Golda Meir, Dame Eugenia Charles Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Indira Gandhi. (Image : indianexpress.com, britannica.com, theguardian.com, britannica.com, onlysimchas.com, likessuccess.com, alchetron.com, youtube.com)
What Does The Future Hold For Women Political Leaders?
Now that Theresa May is firmly entrenched as UK’s prime minister (said to possess the same steely determination as her predecessor, Margaret Thatcher or the ‘Iron Lady’), the next to garner spotlight is Hillary Clinton, just on the other side of the proverbial pond or Atlantic. German Chancellor Angela Merkel already holds the reins of a European power and should Clinton beat Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential elections this November, the global political arena may just turn out to be one of the most ground-breaking with the Western world’s most prominent nations led by the so-called 'fairer sex'.
Hillary Clinton. (Image : theatlantic.com)
Theresa May Giving Her First Speech as Prime Minister.
(Video : BBC News)