Thursday 8 December 2016

Theresa May appointed UK's second female Prime Minister

Published 13/07/2016 | 18:03

Britain's Queen Elizabeth welcomes Theresa May at the start of an audience in Buckingham Palace, where she invited her to become Prime Minister, in London July 13, 2016. REUTERS/Dominic Lipinski/Pool
Britain's Queen Elizabeth welcomes Theresa May at the start of an audience in Buckingham Palace, where she invited her to become Prime Minister, in London July 13, 2016. REUTERS/Dominic Lipinski/Pool

Theresa May has been appointed the UK's second female Prime Minister in a private audience with the Queen at which she was invited to form a Government.

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Mrs May's elevation to the country's most senior political role, at the age of 59, completes a whirlwind rise which was triggered by the unexpected referendum vote for Brexit on June 23 which brought down predecessor David Cameron.

She "kissed hands" with the monarch in a simple procedure at Buckingham Palace which made her the 13th holder of the post of Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury during Elizabeth II's reign.

Mrs May arrived at the Palace by ministerial car with husband Philip, having set off from the House of Commons only after receiving the signal that predecessor David Cameron's resignation as PM had been accepted by the Queen and that he had advised the head of state to appoint the former Home Secretary in his place.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth welcomes Theresa May at the start of an audience in Buckingham Palace, where she invited her to become Prime Minister, in London July 13, 2016. REUTERS/Dominic Lipinski/Pool
Britain's Queen Elizabeth welcomes Theresa May at the start of an audience in Buckingham Palace, where she invited her to become Prime Minister, in London July 13, 2016. REUTERS/Dominic Lipinski/Pool

Mr Cameron was accompanied by wife Samantha and children Nancy, Elwen and Florence as he left 10 Downing Street for the last time as Prime Minister.

Standing with his family outside the famous black door, Mr Cameron said that he believed he was leaving the country "much stronger" and the economy "immeasurably stronger" after his six years in office.

In a clear bid to define the legacy that he will leave behind him, he spoke of his pride at achievements including reducing the deficit, legalising gay marriage, boosting employment, introducing the National Living Wage, increasing international aid spending and cutting waits for NHS treatment

And he paid tribute to Samantha, who he described as "the love of my life" who had "kept me vaguely sane".

Mr Cameron said he was "delighted that for the second time in British history the new Prime Minister will be a woman, and once again a Conservative".

And he said Mrs May would provide "strong and stable leadership in delivering the Conservative manifesto on which we were elected" and wished her well in negotiating "the best possible terms for Britain's exit from the European Union".

Mr Cameron concluded: "It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve our country as Prime Minister over these last six years and to serve as leader of my party over 11 years.

"And as we leave for the last time, my only wish is continued success for this great country that I love so very much."

Mrs May's elevation completes a whirlwind rise to the country's most senior political job triggered by the unexpected Brexit vote in last month's referendum which brought down her predecessor David Cameron just 20 days ago.

She paid tribute to Mr Cameron as a "great modern prime minister" who had stabilised the economy, brought down the deficit and increased employment, but whose greatest legacy would be social justice measures like the legalisation of gay marriage and the removal of the low-paid from income tax.

"David Cameron has led a One Nation government, and it is in that spirit that I also plan to lead," she said

Mrs May made clear that, despite backing Remain in the recent referendum campaign, she intended to make good on her promise that "Brexit means Brexit".

"We are living through an important moment in our country's history. Following the referendum we face a time of great national change and I know because we are Great Britain we will rise to the challenge," she said.

"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.

"That will be the mission of the Government I lead and together we will build a better Britain."

She stressed her personal commitment to the second part of her party's official name Conservative and Unionist, promising to maintain the "precious, precious bond" between the different nations of the UK at a time when the Scottish Government is making preparations for a possible second independence referendum.

But she said that for her, being a Unionist also meant preserving the bonds between all the country's citizens "whoever we are and wherever we are from".

This meant fighting the "burning injustices" of discrimination and disadvantages faced by various sectors of society including women, ethnic minorities and the white working classes, she said.

Speaking directly to ordinary voters, she said: "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.

"When 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."

Mrs May posed with husband Philip on the steps of No 10, laughing and waving to the world's press, before turning to enter her new home.

Press Association

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