Theresa May profile

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By Catherine Hardy
Theresa May profile

The UK’s second female leader took charge of the country at one of the most turbulent times in its recent history.

Theresa May is no political novice – but even her formative time as UK Interior Minister could not have prepared her for the roller-coaster year since the Brexit vote.

May’s first year as UK prime minister has been anything but plain sailing.

The 60-year-old vicar’s daughter campaigned quietly for Britain to remain in the EU ahead of last year’s referendum on membership of the bloc.

This guaranteed her a low profile during the divisive referendum campaign but has her in an awkward position as the post-Leave vote prime minister charged with steering the ship into uncharted waters.

In favour of a so-called “hard Brexit” or a deal with little compromise, May insists there will be no second referendum.

Official talks are due to begin after the election.

May’s leadership has been dealt a strong blow by the string of terrorist attacks that have struck the UK.

As interior minister, she oversaw a reduction in police numbers – a policy decision, that commentators say, is coming back to haunt her now.

Numbers fell by more than 18,000 between September 2010 and September 2016.

Going to the country was a gamble for the politically-untested May – but with a healthy majority at the time and the opposition Labour Party in disarray, it seemed like a safe one.

But three terrorist attacks in three months, questions over alleged intelligence failings and a narrowing majority have left a growing question mark over the vote.