Winning the top job was the easy bit. For Britain’s incoming prime minister the big challenge starts tomorrow. Handling the United Kingdom’s divorce from Europe will be top of Theresa May’s in tray.
Though she had supported the Remain campaign she is now firmly focused on respecting the result of the referendum.
“Brexit means Brexit, and we are going to make a success of it. There will be no attempt to remain inside the EU. But we also need a government that delivers serious social reform that makes ours a country that truly works for everyone,” she told a rally of supporters on Monday.
Reassuring words for those of her Conservative colleagues who had supported the leave campaign. But she must now unite the divisions in her party.
And that includes with the three high profile Brexit campaigners all of whom had eyes on number 10. Boris Johnson the former mayor of London, Michael Gove the Justice Minister and Andrea Leadsom. There is no indication if any will be handed a portfolio in her cabinet.
The 59-year-old held various posts in the shadow cabinet between 1999 and 2010 before being handed the post of Home Secretary when David Cameron became prime minister six years ago. She remained in the post longer than any other politician in modern times. She was described as “a fierce manager of her team.”
The daughter of an Anglican vicar with a penchant for stylish footwear she studied at Oxford University where, it’s reported she voiced her ambition to be prime minister.
In 2002 she became the first woman to be elected as chairman of the Conservative Party. The newly appointed chairwoman stunned the party conference with her speech in which she said that some people called the Tories “the nasty party”.
Immigration will be high on the agenda of her government. As Home Secretary she committed herself to trying to reduce net migration to tens of thousands, though she herself did not propose the number.
That has not happened. Net migration stood at 330,000 at the last count.
One Italian media outlet likened Britain’s new prime minister to Germany’s Angela Merkel, “cold, competent and determined”. Those may well be attributes she will need in number 10 but also when she goes to Brussels to deal with EU leaders and start the process which will take the United Kingdom out of Europe.