Theresa May

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2016 to 2019

Theresa Mary, Lady May (née Brasier; born 1 October 1956) is a British former politician. She was the 54th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the 15th Leader of the Conservative Party from 2016 to 2019.

Theresa May
Official portrait, 2016
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
13 July 2016 – 24 July 2019
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byDavid Cameron
Succeeded byBoris Johnson
Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
11 July 2016 – 23 July 2019[nb]
ChairmanPatrick McLoughlin
Brandon Lewis
Preceded byDavid Cameron
Succeeded byBoris Johnson
Home Secretary
In office
12 May 2010 – 13 July 2016
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byAlan Johnson
Succeeded byAmber Rudd
Minister for Women and Equalities
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byHarriet Harman
Succeeded byMaria Miller
Chairwoman of the Conservative Party
In office
23 July 2002 – 6 November 2003
LeaderIain Duncan Smith
Preceded byDavid Davis
Succeeded byLiam Fox
The Lord Saatchi
Shadow Cabinet positions
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
19 January 2009 – 11 May 2010
LeaderDavid Cameron
ShadowingJames Purnell
Yvette Cooper
Preceded byChris Grayling
Succeeded byYvette Cooper
Shadow Minister for Women and Equality
In office
2 July 2007 – 11 May 2010
LeaderDavid Cameron
ShadowingHarriet Harman
Preceded byEleanor Laing
Succeeded byYvette Cooper
In office
15 June 1999 – 18 September 2001
Shadow Minister for Women
LeaderWilliam Hague
ShadowingThe Baroness Jay of Paddington
Patricia Hewitt
Preceded byGillian Shephard
Succeeded byCaroline Spelman
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
6 December 2005 – 19 January 2009
LeaderDavid Cameron
ShadowingGeoff Hoon
Jack Straw
Harriet Harman
Preceded byChris Grayling
Succeeded byAlan Duncan
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
In office
6 May 2005 – 8 December 2005
LeaderMichael Howard
ShadowingTessa Jowell
Preceded byJohn Whittingdale
Succeeded byHugo Swire
Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment and Transport
In office
6 November 2003 – 14 June 2004
LeaderMichael Howard
ShadowingMargaret Beckett (Environment)
Alistair Darling (Transport)
Preceded byDavid Lidington (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Tim Collins (Transport)
Succeeded byTim Yeo
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
In office
6 June 2002 – 23 July 2002
LeaderIain Duncan Smith
ShadowingAlistair Darling
Preceded byHerself (Transport, Local Government and the Regions)
Succeeded byTim Collins
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions
In office
18 September 2001 – 6 June 2002
LeaderIain Duncan Smith
ShadowingStephen Byers
Alistair Darling
Preceded byArchie Norman (Environment, Transport and the Regions)
Succeeded byHerself (Transport)
Eric Pickles (Local Government and the Regions)
Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Employment
In office
15 June 1999 – 18 September 2001
LeaderWilliam Hague
ShadowingDavid Blunkett
Estelle Morris (Education and Skills)
Alistair Darling (Work and Pensions)
Preceded byDavid Willetts
Succeeded byDamian Green (Education and Skills)
David Willetts (Work and Pensions)
Member of the House of Lords
Life peerage
Member of Parliament
for Maidenhead
In office
1 May 1997 – 30 May 2024
Preceded byConstituency created
Succeeded byJoshua Reynolds
Majority26,457 (45.5%)
Personal details
Born (1956-10-01) 1 October 1956 (age 67)
Eastbourne, Sussex, England
Political partyConservative
(m. 1980)
  • Hubert Brasier
  • Zaidee Mary Barnes
ResidenceSonning, Berkshire
Alma materSt Hugh's College, Oxford
Signature Edit this at Wikidata
n.b. ^ Acting: 7 June – 23 July 2019

She was born in Eastbourne, Sussex, and grew up in Oxfordshire.[1][2] She was the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Maidenhead in the House of Commons from 1997 to 2024, standing down at the 2024 general election. She was the Home Secretary in the David Cameron government. In 2018, she was elected as Commonwealth Chair-in-Office.

On 12 December 2018, 48 Conservative MPs had submitted letters of no confidence to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady, triggering a vote of no confidence. Despite this, May won the confidence vote after 200 MPs vowed support to her leadership.[3] On 15 January 2019 after her Brexit proposal failed in the House of Commons by a 432 to 202 vote, Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn filled a motion of no confidence in her ministry, which failed in a 325 to 306 vote.[4][5]

In March 2019, May said she would resign as Prime Minister if Parliament passed her Brexit deal, to make way for a new leader in the second phase of Brexit.[6]

On 24 May 2019, she announced that her resignation as party leader would take effect on 7 June and she would leave her position as Prime Minister when her replacement is selected.[7] She was replaced by Boris Johnson.

Early life


May was born on 1 October 1956 in a maternity hospital at 9 Upperton Road in Eastbourne, Sussex.[8] May is the only child of Zaidee Mary (née Barnes; 1928–1982) and Hubert Brasier (1917–1981). Her father was a Church of England clergyman.[1][9][10][11] May was educated at Oxfordshire primary and grammar schools in the State sector, and graduated from the University of Oxford in 1977.

Early career


From 1977 and 1983 May worked at the Bank of England, and from 1985 to 1997 as a financial consultant and senior advisor in International Affairs at the Association for Payment Clearing Services.[12] May's parents died during this period, her father in a car accident in 1981 and her mother of multiple sclerosis a year later.[13][14] May served as a councillor for the London Borough of Merton from 1986 to 1994, where she was Chairman of Education (1988–90) and Deputy Group Leader and Housing Spokesman (1992–94).

Early political work


She first became a Conservative Party MP at the 1997 general election and was promoted to the shadow cabinet in 1999. She held several positions in the shadow cabinet,[15] including Chairman of the Conservative Party (July 2002-November 2003) and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons (December 2005-January 2009).

"Nasty party"


In October 2002, May used the term "nasty party" to describe the Conservative Party. She wrote: "There's a lot we need to do in this party of ours. Our base is too narrow and so, occasionally, are our sympathies. You know what some people call us -- the Nasty Party."[16] What she meant at the time was that the Conservative Party was hostile towards people with disabilities, as well as other people who are vulnerable.

The term "Nasty Party" applied to Conservative Party members with traditional conservative views:this included being anti-gay, anti-minorities, and pro-business, and lacking concern for the poor.[17][18]

Many conservatives felt this one the reasons the Conservative Party lost the last three general elections and needed to broaden their traditional base to have a chance of reelection.[19][20]

Nasty party is likely a play on words (of the Nazi Party, which was active in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s).

Home Secretary (2010-2016)


She became the Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality on 12 May 2010.

In December 2010, May declared that deployment of water cannon by police forces in mainland Britain was an operational decision which had been "resisted until now by senior police officers."[21] She rejected their use following the widespread rioting in Summer 2011. In 2010, May promised to bring the level of net migration down to less than 100,000.[22] In February 2015, The Independent reported, "The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced a net flow of 298,000 migrants to the UK in the 12 months to September 2014—up from 210,000 in the previous year."

At the Conservative Party Conference on 4 October 2011, while arguing that the Human Rights Act needed to be amended, May gave the example of a foreign national who the Courts ruled was allowed to remain in the UK, "because—and I am not making this up—he had a pet cat".

In May 2012, she said she supported same-sex marriage. She recorded a video for the Out4Marriage campaign.[23]

In July 2013, May decided to ban the stimulant khat, against the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). The council said that there was "insufficient evidence" it caused health problems.[24]

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (2016-19)


2016 Conservative Party leadership election


May was a candidate in the upcoming election for leadership of the Conservative Party. May described herself as a candidate who will unify the party after a 'divisive' referendum (Brexit).[25][26] She won the first ballot on 5 July 2016 by a large margin with 50% of the votes. On 7 July, May won the votes of 199 MPs, facing the vote of Conservative Party members in a contest with Andrea Leadsom.[27]

Leadsom's withdrawal from the contest on 11 July led to May being set to be appointed party leader and hence, Prime Minister, an office she assumed on 13 July 2016.[28][29]

Early days


After being appointed by the Queen on 13 July 2016, May became[30] the United Kingdom's second female Prime Minister, after Margaret Thatcher. She is the first female Prime minister of the 21st century.[31]

May told the media on 12 July 2016 that she was "honoured and humbled" to be the party leader and to become prime minister. Responding to some calls for a general election (reported by the news media) to confirm her mandate, "sources close to Mrs May" said there would be no such election according to the BBC.[32]

A big issue May had to tackle during her premiership is Brexit, after Britain voted to leave the European Union. May has led talks with the European Union to plan how the split will happen.

May has also dealt with the war in Iraq and Syria. She has used Britain's military to fight ISIS in both countries. British troops have been in the Battle of Mosul, helping Iraq's military and the Kurdish forces.

General election, 2017

May with President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., January 2017

On 18 April 2017 Theresa May surprised people by saying she wanted to have a snap general election on 8 June .[33] The next day the House of Commons voted in favour of holding the general election in June.[33]

At the start of the campaign the Conservatives had a large lead in the polls. As the campaign went on, the Labour Party gained more support and started to rise in the polls. On the day of the election the Conservatives did worse than expected and May lost her majority in the House of Commons.[34]

Vote of no confidence


On 12 December 2018, the chairman of the 1922 committee received enough formal request letters to warrant what some Westminster system countries call a Leadership spill,[35] which was promptly scheduled for the following evening. Many say this is because of the Brexit deal and the way May is handling the deal. Before the vote, May said later that day that she would not lead her party in the next general election.[36] May would go on to win the confidence vote.

Brexit defeat

May announcing her resignation outside 10 Downing Street, May 2019

On 15 January 2019 Theresa May's government was defeated in the house of commons by a majority of 203 in a vote on her deal to leave the European Union. This is the largest majority against a United Kingdom government ever.[37]



On 24 May 2019, May announced that she would resign as Conservative Party leader effective on 7 June and that she will remain as Prime Minister until her replacement is picked.[7]

In the 2019 General Election she was re-elected in her Maidenhead constituency.

Personal life


She married Philip John May on 6 September 1980. She has no children.[38]

In 2013, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.[39]

May is a member of the Church of England and regularly worships at church on Sunday.[40]




  • Miss Theresa Brasier (1956–1980)
  • Mrs Philip May (1980–1997)
  • Theresa May MP (1997–2003)
  • The Rt Hon Theresa May MP (2003–present)


  1. 1.0 1.1 The International Who's Who. Europa Publications. 2004. p. 1114.
  2. Davies, Ben (22 May 2001). "Vote 2001:Key People Theresa May Education and Employment". BBC News Online. BBC. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  3. "Theresa May survives confidence vote". BBC News. 12 December 2018.
  4. "May's government survives no confidence vote". No. 16 January 2019. BBC News. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  5. Sparrow, Andrew; Weaver, Matthew; Lyons, Kate (16 January 2019). "No-confidence motion fails by 325 to 306 votes – Politics live". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  6. Stewart, Heather; Mason, Rowena; Walker, Peter (2019-03-27). "May vows to resign before next phase of Brexit if deal is passed". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Latest as May makes statement outside No 10". BBC News. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  8. "Caroline Ansell for Eastbourne & Willingdon". Caroline Ansell for Eastbourne & Willingdon. Archived from the original on 2020-02-09. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  9. Davies, Ben (22 May 2001). "Vote 2001: Key People Theresa May Education and Employment". BBC News. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  10. "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS.
  11. "Famous family trees: Theresa May". 19 March 2013. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  12. "As Theresa May makes a bid for prime minister we look at her first foray into politics". 7 July 2016. Retrieved 2016-07-09.
  13. Day, Elizabeth (27 July 2014). "Theresa May – what lies beyond the public image?". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  14. Mendick, Robert (9 July 2016). "The Oxford romance that has guided Theresa May from tragedy to triumph". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  15. "Howard unveils his top team". BBC News Online. BBC. 10 November 2003. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  16. "The Tories are still the Nasty Party". New Statesman. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
  17. "Watching their words". BBC. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
  18. "Nasty Tories told to change". BBC. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
  19. "Tories put their leader to the test". BBC. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
  20. "Nasty party warning to Tories". Guardian. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
  21. Porter, Andrew (12 December 2010). "Police could use water cannon to disperse rioters, Theresa May says". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
  22. "Theresa May to tell Tory conference that mass migration threatens UK cohesion". The Guardian. London. 6 October 2015.
  23. Home Secretary Theresa May comes @Out4Marriage retrieved 24 May 2012
  24. "Herbal stimulant khat to be banned". BBC News. 3 July 2013.
  25. "Theresa May's Tory Leadership Launch Statement". The Independent. London, UK. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  26. Elgot, Jessica (30 June 2016). "Theresa May launches Tory leadership bid with pledge to unite country". The Guardian. London, UK. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  27. "Theresa May v Andrea Leadsom to be next prime minister". BBC News. 8 July 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  28. "Theresa May to succeed Cameron as UK PM on Wednesday". BBC. BBC. 13 July 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2016. The timing of the handover of power from David Cameron looks set to be after PM's questions on Wednesday.
  29. "Theresa May gives first speech as leader of the Conservative party". The Telegraph. London, UK. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  30. McKenzie, Sheena. "Theresa May becomes new British Prime Minister". Retrieved 2016-07-13.
  31. "PM-in-waiting Theresa May promises 'a better Britain'". BBC News. 11 July 2016. Archived from the original on 25 January 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  32. "Tributes for David Cameron at his final cabinet as UK PM". BBC News. BBC. 12 July 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  33. 33.0 33.1 "Theresa May seeks general election". BBC News. 18 April 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  34. "UK election 2017: Conservatives 'to fall short of majority'". BBC News. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  35. "Britain in chaos: Theresa May could face leadership spill". 12 February 2018.
  36. "U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May survives no-confidence vote amid Brexit turmoil". NBC News.
  37. "PM's Brexit deal rejected by huge margin". BBC News. 15 January 2019.
  38. Orr, Deborah (14 December 2009). "Theresa May: David Cameron's lady in waiting". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  39. "Theresa May diagnosed with diabetes". BBC News. 28 July 2013.
  40. "Church of England and Theresa May". The Times. 15 March 2012. p. 26.

Other websites


  Media related to Theresa May at Wikimedia Commons   Quotations related to Theresa May at Wikiquote