Theresa May prepares to take over as Brexit PM | World Defense

Theresa May prepares to take over as Brexit PM


Dec 5, 2014
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Theresa May prepares to take over as Brexit PM

Britain's outgoing Prime Minister, David Cameron (L) speaks to incoming prime minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, in central London. (Reuters)
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Wednesday, 13 July 2016

British Prime Minister David Cameron is poised to step down on Wednesday and Theresa May prepares to take his place following a momentous referendum to leave the European Union that has sent shockwaves around the world.

After six years in office, Cameron announced he would resign the day after the vote. He will chiefly be remembered for proposing the referendum in the first place and then spectacularly failing to clinch it.

The outgoing Cameron – whose resignation was fast-tracked after May won the leadership battle for his ruling Conservative party earlier this week – signed off as Prime Minister with a standing ovation from Conservative MPs and applause from some of the opposition.

As Cameron ended his last session of Prime Minister’s Questions – a longstanding parliamentary tradition - in the House of Commons with the air of a man looking forward to much-needed time off. He told MPs to a mirthful parliament: “I was the future once.”

The same paper, which in the UK is often jokingly referred to as the 'Torygraph' for its pro-Conservative leanings, paid tribute to the outgoing PM, 49, whose six-year premiership was cut short by the Brexit vote on June 23.

“He is proud of restoring the country to economic stability after the 2008 crash and fighting for unpopular causes in the party, including gay marriage and international development,” the Telegraph column said.

Other newspapers offered harsher judgments of a politician toppled by his decision to call for the fateful referendum.

The Sun tabloid - Britain's most read paper - said Cameron had been “undone by his Olympian overconfidence,” while the Guardian called him a “prime minister of broken promises.”

Cameron is now set to tender his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

The monarch will then call on May, 59, to form a government and the newly-anointed prime minister will make a statement outside her new Downing Street residence. May is set to become the UK's second female prime minister, after Margaret Thatcher.

European leaders have asked the government to move quickly to renegotiate its relationship with the EU but May has indicated she will not be rushed into triggering the formal procedure for Brexit.

The 59-year-old, who will become Britain's second female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher, also has to attempt to bridge Conservative Party divisions and deal with a potential economic downturn.

Her other daunting challenges include keeping pro-EU Scotland from bidding for independence in order to stay in the 28-nation bloc, and weaving new global trade and diplomatic alliances to prepare for a post-Brexit future.

Clouds start to disperse
May campaigned with Cameron for Britain to stay in the EU and she will also have to convince Brexit supporters that she will implement the result of the June 23 referendum to leave the EU as she has promised.

May has previously sought to quell accusations that she would try to keep Britain from leaving the Brussels-based bloc. “There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door.... Brexit means Brexit,” she said in her June 30 speech announcing her bid to replace Cameron.

Getting ready: Britain's premier-in-waiting Theresa May arrives to attend a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, in London, Tuesday, July 12, 2016. (AP)

May's bid for his job accelerated as key proponents of Britain's EU withdrawal, including charismatic former mayor of London Boris Johnson, stepped back in a head-spinning round of political bloodletting.

The vote exposed deep inequalities in British society which May has promised to address and upended the political scene, sending her Conservatives and the main opposition Labour Party into turmoil.

"Theresa May's virtual 'coronation' as prime minister has delivered a boost to the pound as the clouds of uncertainty following the Brexit vote start to disperse," said market analyst Neil Wilson at ETX Capital, a financial trading company in London.

The political stability brought by May’s upcoming arrival to the top job has strengthen the ailing pound. On Wednesday, sterling went up 2.3 percent against the dollar.

May is expected to begin announcing cabinet picks later on Wednesday and these could reportedly include current energy minister Amber Rudd, foreign minister Philip Hammond and Brexit campaigner Chris Grayling, the Conservatives' House of Commons leader.

May is tasked with putting together a new post-Cameron cabinet – and is set to appoint a record number of women to ministerial posts, The Times reported.

She must also be careful to ensure that many of her cabinet members are pro-Brexit, and must also appoint one new minister in to be in charge of steering Britain out of the EU.

Middle East stance
Through Cameron’s premiership, May has backed most of his decisions and followed the party line. She voted in favor of military action in Iraq, Syria and Libya, and in 2020 voted to keep British troops deployed in Afghanistan.

In 2013, after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime allegedly used chemical weapons to kill hundreds of civilians in a Damascus suburb, she also backed Cameron in his failed bid for military action in Syria.

In 2003, while Conservative party chairman, she voted in favor of the invasion of Iraq.

The daughter of a Church of England vicar, May is a cricket fan with a sober, well-mannered demeanour who lists her hobbies as cooking and walking.

She shows a flash of flamboyance with a colourful shoe collection -- particularly her leopard-skin heels -- which has become famous in the British press.

Last Update: Wednesday, 13 July 2016 KSA 17:47 - GMT 14:47