After an unexpected coronation by the Conservative Party in July Theresa May became Prime Minister of the UK. Despite some of the most tumultuous weeks ever seen in British politics things seems to have gone rather quiet of late and after ascending to power in a flurry of media coverage not much has been heard of Ms May. Not altogether unexpected given Parliament is still in its summer recess however we feel this is a fine opportunity to see if we can find out some interesting facts about our new Prime Minister.
Comparisons to Angela Merkel – Much coverage of May has does not hesitate to compare her to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Perhaps a rather lazy parallel to draw just because the two are female head of Government, however, they are both the children of a pastor (similar to ex-PM Gordon Brown) and apparently share a fondness for alpine walks.
In keeping with links to other well known female politicians May was introduced to her husband through mutual friend and former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto.
in 2010 David Cameron appointed May to the position of Home Secretary. Often seen as a poisoned chalice, Home Secretaries are not usually known to last very long, with the role beset by a flurry of resignations. May however remained in the position until becoming Prime Minister, making her the longest serving Home Secretary for 60 years.
Before her appointment to the Cabinet May served as the first female Chairman of the Conservative Party where she rose to prominence after coining the phrase “the nasty party’ in reference to the Conservatives.
Similar to the scrutiny reserved primarily for female politicians May was subject to accusations in 2013 that she was losing weight in preparation for a leadership bid. It transpired that she in fact had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Whilst having to inject herself with insulin twice a day May says she manages the illness and it does not get in the way of her day to day life.
As mentioned above May had a particularly long tenure in the Home Office that was not free from its list of controversies. In 2013 May was responsible for the Billboards driving around London with the headline “Go Home” directed at illegal immigrants. Widely criticised on both side of the political aisle the billboard vans were quickly withdrawn amidst accusation that the language more befitted The National Front.
In a view surprising for a mainstream politician May supports the UK’s withdrawal from the ECHR – seen by many as the cornerstone of our basic human rights. However upon assuming power May acknowledged that there was not the Parliamentary support for a withdrawal and as such it was not something she was planning to pursue.
On the somewhat lighter side May is known for her enjoyment of interesting footwear, famously appearing at the Tory Party conference in leopard print kitten heels and upon meeting the queen donning a pair of over the knee leather boots (and in doing so providing pages of fodder and discussion for the Daily Mail).
May also once took part in a debate at the Oxford Union speaking against the motion “Sex is great but success is better”. Asked where she would sit now May said she opted to “take the fifth amendement”.
What perhaps is most interesting about Theresa May is actually how little we know / anyone can seem to find out. A self-confessed unshowy politician she has kept out of the spotlight and generally just gets on with her remit. However we are keen to more about this women who unexpectedly usurped Boris Johnson to become the Prime Minister in some of the UK’s most turbulent political and economic times. Should anyone know more feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below.