Already serving as Home Secretary, Mrs May became Leader of the Conservative Party and therefore Prime Minister on 13 July 2016.
The leadership race was triggered by the resignation of David Cameron after the UK voted to leave the European Union. During this time Mrs. May stayed largely out of the campaign. She delivered one speech and positioned herself as a ‘reluctant remainer’ most likely out of loyalty to Mr. Cameron.
Since July last year, Mrs. May has had to deal with managing, to some, the still unimaginable victory of Donald Trump and terrorism literally on her doorstep at Westminster. There has also been a budget slip up, angering the self-employed in what looked like a breach of a manifesto commitment.
Despite this, she has, in my view, risen to these challenges with the statesman like manner required of a Prime Minister. At times she echoes the confident manner and approach of a certain Mrs. Thatcher.
With no mandate of her own from the British people, Mrs. May decided, she says ‘reluctantly’ to call a General Election on 8th June, despite repeatedly saying she did not want one. There’s that word again – reluctant. However, she was headstrong in her put down to Sky News presenter Adam Boulton who started to speculate her speech was a resignation due to ill-health (May has Type 1 Diabetes).
Is the PM all talk?
As the Prime Minister starts treading the campaign trail, the UK Independence Party, including former leader Nigel Farage, say that Theresa May talks a good game but her actions are something else.
They point to her record on immigration, which increased from both inside and outside the EU. They do this because a) it’s true and b) it will make the ‘Brexiteers’ nervous.
I have to say, as someone who frequently shouted at the Andrew Marr programme when she was Home Secretary, the PM is very good at not answering questions.
There is also the added issue of appearing to have complete conviction about not wanting to have a general election, only to look equally committed to the idea that she now does. Will the British public think they are being played by a smooth politician?
TV Debates - A lot of effort; too many risks
I fully understand why the PM does not want to do the TV debates.
Firstly, it's not her strength and secondly, for all the hours of preparation half the media will focus on what top she was wearing and the other half how well her opposition did. In short, why bother?
But, Mrs May will need to work on speaking beyond the script if she is to bring over personality and not run out of steam during a long campaign.
Theresa May's Profile
In case, with the speed of our politics you didn't know let’s remind ourselves of the PM's political career so far:
- Theresa May, nee Brasier, was elected Conservative MP for Maidenhead in 1997.
- She started her career at the Bank of England
- She read Geography at St Hugh’s College, Oxford University
- May was a Councillor for the London Borough of Merton in the 1980s
- Theresa May lost in the 1992 General Election, standing in North West Durham
- In 2002 she became the first female Conservative Party Chairman and albeit 15 years later will still be associated with those kitten heels and that speech about being the ‘nasty party’
- She, and her advisers, had an open spat with then Education Secretary Michael Gove which say David Cameron intervene. Needless to say Gove is not in Mrs. May’s Cabinet.
- Seen as a poison-challis appointment, May broke modern records by staying as Home Secretary for seven years. Not sure about this one, she basically didn’t mess up enough to get sacked!
- In 2013 she courted controversy by allowing vans with the message ‘go home or get arrested’ written on them to drive around London
- She’s genuinely into fashion, doing a splash for American Vogue after becoming PM
- She has a strong Christian faith. Her father was a Church of England clergyman
- In terms of achievements, which of course are subjective, many point to:
- In July 2013, after over a decade, she had Abu Qatada deported to Jordan
- She abolished Labour’s Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) which had become both a badge of honour and a mockery
- In 2010, she abolished the National Identity Card and database scheme started by Labour