All You Need To Know About ‘Theresa May’ New UK prime minister | Must Read
It will be a mid-week start for the Conservative leader as she takes over as the second female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on Wednesday. While financial markets are cheering her appointment, with sterling trading above $1.30, many analysts have said the implications for the U.K. economy could be much bigger due to uncertainty about her policies at this stage.
CNBC takes a look at who Theresa May is and what her leadership could mean for the country.
Early life & career
The 59-year old Essex-born is an alumna of Oxford University where she studied geography. Prior to becoming a member of parliament (MP), May worked at the Bank of England and went on to hold posts at the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS) as Head of European Affairs Unit and Senior Adviser on International Affairs.
May married banker Philip May in 1980 after the two met at a Conservative Association dance party while May was studying at Oxford University.
She started out stuffing envelopes at her local Conservative Association before becoming a councillor in the London Borough of Merton from 1986 to 1994.
From 1988 to 1990 she was the Chairman of Education; thereafter she became the Deputy Group Leader and Housing Spokeswoman between 1992 and 1994.
Member of Parliament
May became an elected Member of Parliament for Maidenhead in May 1997 where she currently lives and is an active campaigner. Her campaigns include improving local train service, inclusion of a minor injuries unit at St. Marks Hospital and improvement of Maidenhead town center.
May quickly rose to prominence in the Conservative Party and has held several positions in Parliament since 1997. She was a member of the Shadow Cabinet from 1999 to 2010, including as Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Employment, Shadow Secretary for State for Work and Pensions and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons.
From 2002 to 2003 she became the first female Chairman of the Conservative Party.
May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities in May 2010 by Prime Minister David Cameron as part of his first Cabinet. She became the longest serving Home Secretary of modern times.
In her role as Home Secretary, she led the government’s work to free up the police to fight crime more effectively, secure the borders and reduce immigration. She also worked towards protecting the U.K. from terrorism.
Being one of the most senior female Cabinet members of the Conservative party, May worked towards Women’s equality and adoption rights. She expressed support for the introduction of same-sex marriage by recording a video for the Out4Marriage campaign and became one of the first high-profile Conservative MP’s to pledge support for same-sex marriage.
Views on Brexit
A ‘Remain’ campaigner, May has vowed to unite those divided by the EU referendum. While she supported the ‘remain’ campaign, May did not extensively campaign in the referendum.
In a speech after confirmation as the winner of the Conservative Party’s leadership contest, May reiterated earlier comments that there would be no second referendum or backdoor attempts to join the European Union and pledged to set out economic plans to deal with the current instability.
“Brexit means Brexit, and we’re going to make a success of it,” May said.
Implications for the U.K. economy
Financial markets cheered the announcement of Theresa May’s confirmation as the new Prime Minister of the U.K. but analysts have warned that this may be a knee-jerk reaction and uncertainty will continue to exist.
“Uncertainty is going to persist for a while until we know what deal or arrangements the U.K. makes with the European Union,” Leila Butt, senior economist at Prudential Portfolio Management Group told CNBC on the sidelines of a briefing. “There will be greater clarity in the days ahead but for now we can’t say much till we know what her policies will be.”
In her leadership speech, May pledged to crack down on executive pay by making shareholder votes binding rather than advisory and to put workers onto company boards. “We should no longer seek to reach a budget surplus by the end of the Parliament,” May said in her speech.
In a research note, Kallum Pickering, Senior U.K. Economist at Berenberg Bank says that tax increases should be avoided. “If before 2020 there is a choice between further spending cuts, more borrowing and tax rises, the priority must be to avoid tax increases since they would disrupt consumption, employment and investment.”
May has also said that she will not call for early elections. While the next general election is scheduled for 2020, it is unclear if May will manage to hold the Conservative Party together. But the bigger concerns before that are about triggering Article 50.
Berenberg’s Pickering says that while May has previously said that she wouldn’t trigger Article 50 to begin the withdrawal negotiations from the EU until next year, her sooner than expected rise to power raises the prospect that she can hand in the official EU divorce notice before the end of 2016 already.
“Starting to discuss the divorce terms and the new terms of trade as soon as possible in a constructive rather than confrontational way could support a quicker economic recovery as a reduction in uncertainty can mitigate the downside risks to business investment and hiring,” he added.