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BRIT Review

Analysing Prime Minister Theresa May by Jonathan Purcell

Monday, August 08, 2016


The start to Theresa May's premiership has all been a bit different. She is only the second female Prime Minister in British history and she is the seventh unelected Prime Minister since the Second World War.

Considering she's only been Prime Minister for a short amount of time, she has done a lot. Removing the Chancellor from the cabinet and dissolving the Department for Energy and Climate Change right on the cusp of Britain considering fracking again are both very bold moves.

Jonathan PurcellNeedless to say, changes beyond her control are also happening very quickly. Facing a military coup in Turkey and a terrorist attack in France are a big ask for someone that has been focusing on domestic affairs for the last two governments as Home Secretary. Regardless, how well versed is May at dealing with these threats and what experience does she have?

The first thing to consider about May is that she identifies as a one-nation conservative as she said in her first speech as Prime Minister. In the simplest terms, one nation conservatism aims to appeal to the working class population by emphasising the fact that the rich should help the poor. However, she voted against using bank bonuses to fund creating more jobs for young people in 2011 which seems to be at odds with her one nation conservatism ideology.

Having said that, she has supported pro youth policies in the past. Theresa May voted against raising tuition fees to £3000 in 2004. However she then went back on this view in 2010 where she voted in support of raising the tuition fee cap to £9000.

Her voting record is also mixed with regards to social issues such as gay rights. In 1998, she voted against reducing the homosexual age of consent from 18 to 16, which would have made it equal to the heterosexual age of consent. However, she has since supported same sex marriage, voting in favour of it in 2013.

Another important area to consider for someone who has most recently been Home Secretary is how May will deal with foreign policy. Foreign policy is one area where May has been very consistent. In every vote in the House of Commons, May has voted in favour of military intervention. She voted for intervention in Iraq in 2003, continued intervention in Afghanistan in 2010, intervention in Libya in 2011, and intervention against ISIL in 2014. 

May certainly appears to be less of a moderate than her predecessor, David Cameron. This will no doubt earn her support amongst the Conservative Government and is likely to mean that she will face few rebels during her time as Prime Minister. However, this could work against her in 2020 where her somewhat inconsistent voting record will be scrutinised. Indeed, votes against same sex equality and for the Iraq War are likely to turn off vast proportions of the electorate especially considering the UK’s increasingly progressive outlook. However, May is by no means on the extreme right of the Conservative Party. Perhaps her chances of being re-elected in the next General Election have less to do with her and more to do with her opponent. No doubt she will be paying earnest attention to the Labour leadership race in the coming weeks.

About Jonathan

Jonathan is a dual citizen of the Republic of Ireland and the UK. He is hoping to study History at University College London from 2016. He is also a constituent of Prime Minister Theresa May.


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