'We could do with some bloody difficult women' - Tory frontrunner May
Britain will emerge from Brexit with a "better, brighter future", Theresa May has pledged as she warned that the country faces "tough times" while it negotiates to leave the European Union.
In her first interview since she and Andrea Leadsom were named as the final two candidates vying to become the next prime minister, Ms May said: "Politics could do with some bloody difficult women."
The British home secretary said that a female prime minister would bring "honesty" and a greater focus on "delivery" in Downing Street, as she suggested that men tended to treat politics as a "game".
She also appealed to people not to consider her as a 'Remainer' after she campaigned to keep Britain in the EU, saying that she was "very clear that Brexit means Brexit".
She insisted that she was not the "new Margaret Thatcher", describing the former prime minister as "absolutely unique".
"People love to draw parallels, but I just get on with the job and that is my philosophy," she said.
Ms May topped the second-round poll of MPs with the support of 199 out of 330 Tory MPs. The final decision now rests with the Conservative Party's 150,000 members.
Ms May adopts a more cautious tone than her rival about leaving the EU, admitting that "difficult times" lie ahead despite the fact she is "optimistic" for the future.
Ms May said: "If I am prime minister, we will come out of the EU and part of that will be control of free movement. But alongside that, it's important to show how we can come through what will be I think some difficult times with a better, brighter future."
She urged the party to drop the terms "Brexiteers and Remainers", echoing the suggestion by William Hague last week that "we are all leavers now".
She said: "We have a job to do in making the best deal we can in coming out of the EU and I am very clear that I will deliver Brexit."
Ms May also embraced Ken Clarke's description of her last week as a "bloody difficult woman". She said: "We [women] just get stuck in. Politics isn't a game. The decisions we make affect people's lives and that is something we must keep to the forefront of our minds.
"Women often focus more on delivery - what the outcome is going to be, rather than what are the interactions people have in order to get there.
"I also think that right now people are looking for an honesty in politics. We could go through some tough times and we need to be honest with people about that."
Ms May has challenged Ms Leadsom to sign a five-point "pledge card" as she calls for a "clean campaign".
It includes a pledge not to "co-operate in any way with other political parties", including donors or members.
Nigel Farage, the outgoing Ukip leader, and Arron Banks, the party's donor, have said they support Ms Leadsom as next Tory leader.
Ms Leadsom last week refused to rule out Mr Farage forming part of her Brexit negotiating team. (© Daily Telegraph, London)