United Kingdom: Prime Minister Theresa May


Theresa May began her political career in 1984 as a councilor of London, a post she kept until 1994.  After running and losing twice as a Conservative candidate for the House of Commons, May cinched the Maidenhead seat in 1997.  Once in the House of Commons, May steadily climbed through the Conservative Party’s ranks, holding a series of shadow positions, and finally becoming the first woman to chair the Conservative Party in 2002.  Through her tenure in the House of Commons May garnered a reputation as a no nonsense legislator and tough negotiator.  She famously called for the modernization of the Conservative Party, warning its leaders in 1999 that they were quickly becoming the “nasty party”.  In that vein, May has voted in favor of same sex marriage and policies to decrease domestic violence and the gender pay gap. After David Cameron was elected Prime Minister in 2010 May became the Secretary of State for the Home Department. As secretary, Theresa May pursued policies to decrease immigration of arrivals coming from outside the European Union, aiming to reduce their numbers from upwards of 300,000 to the tens of thousands.  She was also openly critical of the British Police Federation, warning in 2014 that its problems did not come from “just a few bad apples”, but rather a system corruption.  

After David Cameron announced his imminent resignation following the U.K.’s referendum decision on Brexit, Theresa May emerged as the Conservative Party’s leading candidate.  In April 2017 she was elected Prime Minister.  Despite general dismay on the results of Brexit among the electorate, Theresa May made it clear that there would be no second referendum and that the United Kingdom would move forward on its decision.  May faced challenges, however, from both Parliament and the House of Commons in activating Article 50, which would guarantee the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union within two years.   May has vocalized her intent to negotiate Brexit in a way that will benefit the United Kingdom’s net trade and protect European free trade.  She has also committed to finding a solution for E.U. citizens currently residing within the United Kingdom, although she has not proposed any concrete policies. Most of May’s foreign policy has been geared toward negotiating Brexit.

Theresa May has voiced her strong support for ensuring girls throughout the world receive a quality education.  At the G7 Summit, she announced the UK would fund £187 million ($248 million) for over 400,000 girls to have access to 12 years of a quality education.  Throughout May’s leadership, she has focused on the environment and sustainability. She recognized the need for collective global action in this area and the importance of the G7, as an opportunity for world leaders to address environmental issues.  May announced in a statement at the G7 Summit in Canada that she was disappointed in Trump’s decision to impose aluminium and steel tariffs on the EU. She stated the EU would take action in response to these tariffs, but she also noted the need for constructive dialogue rather than intensifying the situation. Additionally, Theresa May stated at the summit the need for a “unified international response” to foreign actions that threaten democracy and the shared values of the G7 countries.

Similarly, tariffs and trade are expected to be important topics of the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires. In Hamburg last year, May expressed concern that the United Kingdom had lost global influence due to Brexit, but that the UK will be bold and plays an important in role in trade, as well as counter-terrorism. In addition to trade, May is expected to continue to advocate for action regarding climate change and to further press Trump regarding the Paris Climate Agreement. May will stand with many other world leaders, including Macron, Merkel, Trudeau, and more in advocating for Trump to lift the aluminium and steel tariffs.

“I will be ruthless in cutting out waste, streamlining structures and improving efficiency.” – Theresa May

“The discussions here have been candid and they have been productive – underlining the importance of continuing to work together to uphold the values that shape our world. The G7 is a vital forum for full and frank discussion between close allies. I want to take this opportunity to thank Justin Trudeau for his leadership in delivering a positive outcome. Together, we stand determined to create a safe, secure and prosperous future for all our citizens.” – Theresa May

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