5 Things About Theresa May, Britain’s Next Prime Minister

The New York Times | By RUSSELL GOLDMAN

Theresa May, the new Conservative Party leader, will become Britain’s second female prime minister on Wednesday, entering 10 Downing Street three weeks after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

A shrewd politician who was described favorably by a colleague as a “bloody difficult woman,” Ms. May, 59, takes power at a tumultuous moment in her country’s history.

Here are five things you need to know about her.

 

She has been a long-serving home secretary

Ms. May has served longer in the difficult cabinet post of home secretary, overseeing the nation’s domestic security and immigration agencies, than any since the 19th century. She has held the post since 2010, 13 years after she was first elected to Parliament.

She is considered a moderate in the Conservative Party and has been compared to Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany; both are known for their pragmatism. As home secretary, Ms. May was criticized for failing to meet a Conservative pledge to sharply reduce the net number of immigrants to Britain.

 

She has promised to lead Britain out of the European Union

Though Ms. May supported Prime Minister David Cameron’s stance in favor of remaining in the European Union, she said little publicly during the referendum campaign, leading to some speculation that she privately favored leaving, known as Brexit. That ambiguity helped her to emerge as a compromise candidate who might promise to unify the party’s factions.

She has ruled out holding a second referendum, saying that the people have spoken and that “Brexit means Brexit.” Still, she is not in a hurry: She said she would not invoke the legal mechanism that begins the withdrawal process until later in the year.

 

She wants to give workers a seat on corporate boards

Ms. May has said that people want more than just a “Brexit P.M.,” and has pledged “a bold new positive vision for the future of our country, a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us.” She has promised to address inequality, give workers greater representation on corporate boards and limit tax cuts.

 

She was introduced to her husband by Benazir Bhutto

Like Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, Ms. May was born into a middle-class family. She was educated at Oxford, where she belonged to the Conservative Association and the Oxford Union, a debating society known for producing future leaders.

At a Conservative Association dance in 1976, she was introduced to Philip May, her future husband, by Benazir Bhutto, a fellow student who would go on to become the first female prime minister of Pakistan.

 

She is an avid cookbook collector

To relax, Ms. May has said she enjoys cooking (she owns more than 100 cookbooks) and taking long walks in the countryside.

She is known for her eclectic footwear, and often wears leopard-print shoes.

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This article first appeared in The New York Times

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