Queen Elizabeth officially asks Theresa May to become Prime Minister and form a new government. Photo / Getty Images
Theresa May has pledged to battle ‘social injustice’ and create a
“country that works for everyone” after being officially been installed
as the new Prime Minister of Britain.
Setting out her stall as a
“one nation” Tory, Mrs May said she was determined to listen “not to the
mighty” but to the members of society who were struggling and
Speaking from Downing Street after formally taking
over from David Cameron, the new PM said: “The Government I lead will
be driven not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours.
will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives.
When we take the big calls, we will think not of the powerful, but you.”
Mrs May became Britain’s second female premier, following in
the footsteps of fellow Tory Margaret Thatcher, after a 34 minute
audience with the Queen in Buckingham Palace. The monarch invited her to
form a government just minutes after Mr Cameron had been in to tender
She went on: “Not everybody knows this, but the
full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist Party. That word
Unionist is very important to me.
Mrs May said: “It means we
believe in the Union, the precious, precious bond between England,
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It means something else that is
just as important.
“It means we believe in the Union not just
between the nations of the United Kingdom but between all of our
citizens, every one of us, whoever we are and wherever we are from.”
Mrs May said being a “unionist” was not just about protecting the UK, but representing everyone who lives here.
means fighting against the burning injustice that if you are born poor
you will die on average nine years earlier than others,” she said.
“If you are black you are treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you are white.”
She went on: “If you are a white working class boy, you are lless likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university.
“If you went to state school, you are less likely to reach the top professions than if you are educated privately.
“If you are a woman, you will earn less than a man.
“If you suffer from mental health problems, there is not enough help to hand.
“If you are young, you will find it harder than ever before to own your own home.”
Mrs May said the “mission to make Britain a country that works for everyone means more than fighting these injustices”.
you are from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than
many people in Westminster realise,” she said. “You have a job but you
don’t always have job security. You have your own home but you worry
about paying the mortgage.
“You can just about manage but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school.
“If you are one of those families, if you’re just managing, I want to address you directly.
“I know you are working around the clock, I know you are doing your best, and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle.
“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 will think not of the powerful, but you.
“When we pass new laws, we will listen not to the mighty, but to you.
“When it comes to taxes, we will prioritise not the wealthy, but you.
it comes to opportunity, we won’t entrench the advantages of the
fortunate few, we will do everything we can to help anybody, whatever
your background, to go as far as your talents will take you.”
a warning about how tough process of Brexit could be, Mrs May said: ‘We
are living through an important moment in the country’s history.
the referendum we face a time of great national change. I know because
we are great Britain, we will rise to the challenge.
“As we leave the European Union, we will forge a bold new positive role for ourselves in the world.
“And we will make Britain a country that works not for the privileged few but for every one of us.
“That will be the mission of the Government I lead and together we will build a better Britain.’
Mrs May paid tribute to Mr Cameron for his work tackling the deficit and getting people into work.
follow in the footsteps of a great modern Prime Minister. Under David’s
leadership, the Government stabilised the economy, reduced the budget
deficit and helped more people into work than ever before,’ she said.
“But David’s true legacy is not about the economy but about social justice.
the introduction of same sex marriage to taking people on low wages out
of tax altogether, David Cameron has led a one nation government and it
is in that spirit I also plan to lead.”
Flanked by wife Samantha
and their children as he delivered a parting speech outside Number 10
earlier, Mr Cameron said: “It’s not been easy going and of course we
have not got every decision right. But I do believe that today our
country is much stronger,” he said.
Mr Cameron thanked his family for keeping him “sane” during his time in office, and described Samantha as the “love of my life”.
As the constitutional handover swung into effect, Mr Cameron went to see the Queen and formally told her he was quitting.
Mrs May then took her turn – entering as Home Secretary and emerging as the new PM.
MPs hoping to win a place in Theresa May’s first Cabinet showered their
new leader with praise today, with one declaring: “We have our Angela
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, compared Mrs May to
the German Chancellor as he waits to find out if he will be promoted
after spending three years with the tough health portfolio.
Mrs May is expected to make the most senior appointments of her Cabinet tonight.
But the skills minister Nick Boles has already resigned from the Government, jumping ship before Mrs May could sack him.
Boles, who led Michael Gove’s short-lived leadership campaign, was
condemned for sending a text to supporters of Mrs May urging them to
vote for the Justice Secretary to exclude Andrea Leadsom from getting
through to the final two.
The cynical move backfired, with Mr Gove winning even fewer nominations from Tory MPs than the first round of voting.
about his new boss today, Mr Hunt said of Mrs May: “I think around the
cabinet table yesterday the feeling was that we have our Angela Merkel.
“We have an incredibly tough, shrewd, determined and principled person to lead those [Brexit] negotiations for Britain.”
his valedictory comments before officially stepping down, Mr Cameron
said: “When I first stood here in Downing Street on that evening in May
2010, I said we would confront our problems as a country and lead people
through difficult decisions so that together we could reach better
“It’s not been an easy journey and of course we have not
got every decision right but I do believe today our country is much
“Above all it was about turning around the economy and
with the deficit cut by two thirds, 2.5 million more people in work, and
one million more businesses, there can be no doubt that our economy is
“Politicians like to talk about policies
but at the end it is about people’s lives. I think of the people doing
jobs who were previously unemployed. I think of the businesses that were
just ideas in someone’s head and that today are making a go of it and
providing people with livelihoods.”
Paying tribute to his family,
the outgoing PM said: “I want to thank my children – Nancy, Elwen and
Florence, for whom Downing Street has been a lovely home over this last
six years. They sometimes kick the red boxes full of work. Florence –
you once climbed into one before a foreign trip and said: ‘Take me with
Well, no more boxes. And above all I want to thank
Samantha, the love of my life. You have kept me vaguely sane and as well
as being an amazing wife, mother and businesswoman, you’ve done
something every week in that building behind me to celebrate the best of
voluntary service in our country.”
Setting out what he sees as
his legacy, Mr Cameron said: “I think of the hard working families
paying lower taxes and getting higher wages because of the first ever
national living wage.
“I think of the children who were
languishing in the care system and who have now been adopted by loving
families. I think of the parents now able to send their children to good
and outstanding schools, including free schools that simply didn’t
“I think of over 200,000 young people taking part
in national citizens service, the first youth programme of its kind in
the world, something again that wasn’t there six years ago.”
Cameron said of Mrs May: “I will advise Her Majesty to invite Theresa
May to form a new administration. I am delighted that for the second
time in British history, the new Prime Minister will be a woman and once
again a Conservative.
“I believe Theresa will provide strong and
stable leadership in fulfilling the Conservative manifesto on which we
were elected and I wish her well in negotiating the best possible terms
for Britain’s exit from the European Union.”
On her final evening before entering No 10 as Prime Minister, Mrs May had dinner with the Chief Rabbi.
and her husband Philip joined guests at the north London home of
Ephraim Mirvis for the dinner, which had been arranged some time ago.
Chief Rabbi said her decision to honour the engagement, following the
fast-moving events which unexpectedly thrust her into Britain’s top
political job, was an indication of the esteem in which the new PM holds
the UK’s Jewish community.
Rabbi Mirvis described Mrs May as “a friend and champion of our community and of other faith”.
incoming PM had earlier in the evening been treated to a private tour
of her new home in Downing Street by her current boss David Cameron.
Cameron showed her the ropes of the luxury kitchen, which he spent
£25,000 on a makeover when he arrived in 2010, in the plush flat above
No 11 Downing Street, where the Cameron family live having swapped with
Chancellor George Osborne’s smaller family.
Mrs May, a keen cook,
is expected to move in to the flat above No 11 with her husband and
will be treated to the spacious kitchen, decked out with
Nigella-standard units and surfaces.
Mr Cameron didn’t take a
last-opportunity to use the kitchen, however, instead treating his staff
to a takeaway curry, spending more than £50 at his favourite Kennington
Tandoori curry house.
The Chief Rabbi revealed Mrs May had dined
with him on her last evening before becoming PM in a statement, in
which he also paid tribute to outgoing PM David Cameron for his work to
promote Holocaust remembrance and education.
In a statement, the
Chief Rabbi thanked Mr Cameron for “his deep friendship and for his
unwavering commitment to promoting the values of decency, respect,
liberty and responsibility” and described him as “a man who not only
speaks with great principle and conviction but who acts upon what he
And he added: “Today, Theresa May becomes Prime
Minister at a time of great political, social and economic uncertainty.
Few people are more talented or better qualified to tackle these immense
“I recall the speed and the sensitivity with which
she reached out to the Jewish community following the terror attacks on
Jewish targets in Europe last year. As she made clear then, ‘Without its
Jews, Britain would not be Britain’.
“She has proved herself to
be a friend and champion of our community and of other faith communities
who share her values of tolerance and understanding.
night, on the eve of her becoming Prime Minister, Theresa May kept a
long-standing arrangement to join Valerie and me at our home for dinner.
fact that she did this in the midst of critically important
preparations before taking up office is a reflection of her strong
desire to keep to her commitments and the esteem in which she holds the
British Jewish community.
“I was delighted to have the opportunity to give her my blessings at this very auspicious time.
“I wish her every success as Prime Minister and look forward to building upon our warm relationship over the coming years.”
Cameron treated his successor Theresa May to a private tour of his
plush Downing Street flat last night as the incoming Prime Minister eyed
up the Cameron family’s luxury kitchen.
Mrs May, a keen cook,
will be moving in to the flat above No 11, where Mr Cameron has lived
with his family – with Chancellor George Osborne’s smaller family living
in the flat above No 10.
The incoming PM is expected to live in
No 11, where the Camerons spent £25,000 to install a luxury new kitchen
after arriving in 2010.
The Cameron family’s kitchen is
understood to be much better equipped and more spacious than their next
door neighbours, with Nigella-standard units and surfaces.
Cameron didn’t use the kitchen for one last time last night – instead
he treated his staff by ordering one last curry as they frantically
packed their bags to make way for the Mays.
favourite curry house – Kennington Tandoori – tweeted a picture of their
driver setting off with four big bags of curry to deliver their “last
supper” to No 10.
confirmed as the new British Prime Minister by Queen Elizabeth ll,
replacing David Cameron as head of the UK government.
Before May’s visit to Buckingham Palace on Wedneday, the Queen accepted Cameron’s resignation as prime minister.
May, 59, has become Britain’s second ever female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher.
Cameron left No 10 Downing Street on Wednesday for the last time after his final appearance in Parliament as UK prime minister.
his farewell statement outside Downing Street earlier on Wednesday
morning, Cameron said May would provide “strong and stable leadership.”
David Cameron during his last appearance as Prime Minister in the British Parliament on Wednesday, July 13, 2016. (AFP photo)May
inherits a long list of political and trade challenges in the divided
country that voted last month to leave the European Union (EU).
rise to the head of government came after three weeks of chaos
following the Brexit vote prompted Cameron to announce hisresignation.
After Cameron said he would resign, several Conservative lawmakers scrambled to replace him.
of political campaigning set aside potential successors, and voting by
lawmakers further narrowed the field to two candidate: Anti-Brexit May
and the pro-Brexit Andrea Leadsom.
to UK constitutional rules, the position of premiership is chosen by
the party with enough seats in parliament to form a government; in this
case the Conservative Party.
The Conservatives won a majority in Parliament during last year’s general election.
The party is free to choose who it wants as head of government until the next mandated national election takes place in 2020.
Minutes after curtsying before a handbag-toting Queen at Buckingham
Palace, the newly minted British Prime Minister Theresa May told a
nation still dizzy from Brexit, that it will prosper and become more
fair and equitable.
“As we leave the European Union, we will
forge a bold, new, positive role for ourselves in the world, and we will
make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few but for
every one of us,” May said as she stood in front of Downing Street for
the first time as Prime Minister.
May’s first speech as leader marked a striking departure from the typical austerity-laden rhetoric of her Conservative Party.
of dwelling on the deficit, the country’s second-ever female UK Prime
Minister emphasised the need to fight “burning injustice,” saying she
will work on behalf of the poor, women and minorities.
She also pledged to defend the “precious bond of the United
Kingdom,” a nod to her determination to beat back a revitalised
secessionist movement in Scotland driven by opposition to the decision
to leave the European Union.
Later, she appointed a team-of-rivals Cabinet, making good on a pledge to select Leave and Remain advocates for top jobs.
Johnson, a flamboyant, pro-Brexit former London Mayor who had openly
coveted the keys to 10 Downing Street before his ambitions were
throttled by a friend, was named Foreign Secretary – making a man not
known for his diplomatic niceties the nation’s top diplomat.
depiction of bright horizons for Britain outside the union contrasted
with the gloomy forecasts from those who consider the referendum outcome
a monumental mistake.
Only weeks ago, May was among them, having
advocated that Britain remain in the European Union – the same stance
taken by David Cameron, whom she replaced.
But while the
referendum cost Cameron his job – he signed off with a bravura
performance in his final appearance in Parliament – it earned May the
She has insisted that there will be no turning back on the country’s departure, and that “Brexit means Brexit”.
59, heaped praise on Cameron, saying he had led the Tories – and the
country – in the right direction by successfully campaigning to legalise
same-sex marriage and modernising what had been known as “the nasty
But Cameron, 49, leaves his successor a mixed
inheritance, with the most difficult questions surrounding Britain’s EU
exit still to come.
One of her first major decisions as Prime
Minister will be to choose when to begin negotiations. Before winning
the Conservative leadership contest, she had said that she would not
trigger Article 50 – the never-before-used mechanism for exiting the
European Union – before year’s end. But she is likely to come under
pressure from European leaders across the English Channel and from
Brexit advocates at home to move faster.
May secured the job
after her sole rival, Andrea Leadsom, unexpectedly dropped out. With
only one candidate in the race, a planned months-long vote of
rank-and-file party members was called off.
May, the first female
Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher stepped down more than a
quarter-century ago, takes over after six years directing the country’s
domestic security as Home Secretary.
In that notoriously
career-killing job, she developed a reputation as a steely yet cautious
manager. Supporters laud her resolve and her experience. Detractors
depict her as stubborn and rigid.
I was the future once
has been a hawk on the issue of reducing the number of immigrants
entering Britain and pushed for a greater government role in electronic
Her views on foreign and economic policy are less
known. But in her first major speech on the economy this week, her tone
was more liberal than expected – emphasising the need to spur growth and
close the gap between rich and poor.
On foreign policy, May has
taken a hard line on containing Russia and China. She also has worked
closely with colleagues across Europe and in Washington on
Her point man for foreign policy will be
Johnson, perhaps the most prominent face in the Leave campaign and one
widely derided for exaggerating the potential benefits of Brexit.
once the front-runner for prime minister, could have some fence-mending
to do with Washington: After President Barack Obama came out against
Brexit, Johnson suggested that the “part-Kenyan” president may not have
Britain’s interests at heart because of his anti-colonial outlook.
He also once described Hillary Clinton as having “a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital”.
Johnson’s flaws, May overlooked them in a bid to heal a party that was
nearly torn apart by the rift between its Leave and Remain camps. The
strategy reflects the continued peril for Conservative prime ministers
of the Europe issue: Cameron, Thatcher and John Major were all undone by
Europe, and May appears determined not to follow their lead.
addition to Johnson, May appointed another prominent Leave advocate,
former minister of state for Europe David Davis, to the new job of
minister for Brexit – giving him a key role in the negotiations to come.
Remain lieutenants will include Philip Hammond, who had been the
Foreign Secretary and will now take over as the country’s Chancellor of
the Exchequer. Another Remain advocate, Energy and Climate Change
Secretary Amber Rudd, was named to May’s old job, Home Secretary.
rival who was left out in the reshuffle was George Osborne, formerly
the Chancellor of the Exchequer and once considered Cameron’s
After all the turmoil in Britain in recent weeks, the handover was accomplished with nearly military precision.
was invited to govern the country during an audience with the Queen
only minutes after Cameron visited Buckingham Palace and formally
resigned. May became the 13th prime minister to air-kiss the hand of the
Queen, who at 90 has seen leaders of government come and go on average
every five years during her more than six-decade reign.
Cameron, today represents the disappointingly abrupt end to a
premiership that has stretched six years – but was supposed to last as
many as 10. Just a year ago, he won a resounding victory that could have
kept him in office until 2020.
In Parliament, Cameron took jabs
from opponents who blamed him for calling the EU vote. But he also
received a rare standing ovation, and his premiership was celebrated by
fellow Conservatives who congratulated him on cutting the deficit,
enacting same-sex marriage and promoting women – one of whom took his
Customarily a gladiatorial-style grudge match, the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions was unusually lighthearted and poignant.
two sword lengths from Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn, Cameron
described the embattled Corbyn as “the Black Knight in Monty Python,”
who loses limb after limb while insisting that “it’s only a flesh
The young-looking Cameron’s final line before leaving the
chamber alluded to a barb he once directed at one of his predecessors,
Tony Blair: “I was the future once”.