Updated: July 13, 2016 2:06:10 pm
Conservative Party leader and former home secretary Theresa May is all set to take over as the next British prime minister after David Cameron. The Maidenhead MP, who backed the Remain campaign, will be tasked with negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union. May promised to unite a divided Britain and hoped for a swift departure. “Brexit means Brexit,” she said, adding that there won’t be any bargaining post-referendum or a backdoor to the EU.
How did we get here?
Prime Minister Cameron announced his decision to step down shortly after the Leave campaign won 52 per cent of the Brexit vote. He staked his reputation and political capital on the Remain campaign, strongly urging Britain to vote for the future of their children. When his gamble failed to pay off, he decided to step down as prime minister, passing the burden of invoking Article 50 and negotiating an exit with other members of the EU.
The Conservative Party announced a leadership race to find an MP to fill Cameron’s shoes. Former London Mayor and the face of Leave campaign, Boris Johnson, who was widely believed to be the next prime minister, decided against running after Lord Chancellor Michael Gove threw his hat into the race. The party list trickled down to just Andrea Ledsom and May, with the former getting herself embroiled in a controversy over comments about May not having children. Ledsom made a dramatic exit from the race citing lack of support for her candidature. That left the field open for May to get elected unopposed as the Leader of the Conservative Party.
When will she assume her new role?
A moving truck was spotted Tuesday outside 10 Downing Street as the Camerons began preparations to hand over the keys to the incoming prime minister May. Cameron is expected to resign from his duties around Wednesday afternoon. May will first meet Queen Elizabeth II before hopping into a bulletproof car that would take her to the new residence.
According to the Daily Mirror, one of her first duties as prime minister would be to write down four identical handwritten notes, leaving instructions for Britain’s commanders over the use of nuclear weapons in case of an imminent threat. It was said that the prime minister often feels the full weight of their role when they put pen to paper writing instructions over potential nuclear fallout.
She would later address the media and begin preparations to appoint her team. Her first business on the agenda would be appointing the Tory chief whip, who would then assist May in picking her Cabinet. Many senior Tory leaders are expected to continue in their current roles and ease the leadership transition from Cameron to May.
Will Britain be in the EU?
It has been a tumultuous last few weeks for Britain with a majority voting Leave and Cameron announcing his decision to step down. The pound took a beating and markets across the world lost millions of dollars in shares.
The prime minister-in-waiting May said she would not immediately invoke Article 50 that would begin the process of Britain pulling out of the EU. May said she would begin negotiations immediately with representatives of the EU over thrashing out a new deal for Britain. Access to EU’s single market and freedom of movement within EU will be the main topics of discussion. The EU, however, previously said that Britain can’t have the cake and eat it too. EU President Jean-Claude Juncker said they won’t come to the negotiating table without UK first invoking Article 50.
How good is May?
May first became a Tory MP in 1997. She swiftly rose through the ranks and assumed various roles within the government under Cameron. Few say that she backed Remain as an act of loyalty to Cameron. But there are others who point out that she carefully hedged her bets by making very few appearances against the Leave campaign.
May is best described as a liberal conservative. Her views on gay marriage are liberal, but conflicting at the same time. She voted twice in the past against a legislation allowing a gay couple to adopt kids. When she was the home secretary, members of the LGBT community from other countries would often find it tough to seek asylum in the UK.
In fact, her views on immigration are in line with the leaders of the Leave campaign. As home secretary, she said the high immigration numbers are not in the interest of Britain. She passed the controversial rule that barred internationals from residing in the UK if their income is below £37,000 per annum. Studies, however, have shown that immigration has contributed more to the economy without causing a strain over public resources such as the NHS, schools and the housing system.
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