“Brexit means Brexit.” And although we haven’t quite yet worked out what that means, Theresa May, the new British Prime Minister, a long-term Eurosceptic, has made it clear that she is ready to make the UK work outside the European Union. Many of her policies are likely to appeal to those who voted “Leave,” while she still holds the Remain card, and remained relatively neutral during the campaigns. She certainly played a very clever game, and could potentially have a broad range of supporters.
Since becoming MP for Maidenhead in 1997, May has had a varied, if at times controversial career. During her stint as Home Secretary, she became renowned for her tough stance on immigration. She made it increasingly harder to get student visas, and the grace period when students had finished their studies was scrapped. (Thanks for your £40,000 – bye bye now.) She also introduced a minimum amount that British citizens would have to make to bring spouses or children into the UK – at £35,000, which caused an outcry from nurses among many, who are famous for propping up the NHS, yet notoriously underpaid. And we all remember the horrific “Go home” vans…
However, her social policies are forward-looking, liberal, and what the people of Britain expect. She has pledged to reduce inequality, and it played a big part of her incoming speech. Although a sceptic would argue it has for every incoming PM, and none of them have managed to bridge the gap, promises such as these will resonate well with an increasingly angry, tired and disenfranchised people. Fulfilling these will be a huge test for May, and it will probably define how successful her leadership will be. She’s acknowledged a need to reduce CEOs salaries, wants more houses built, intends to offer those who suffer from mental health problems more support, voted for gay marriage. It almost sounds too good to be true.
May has also furthered her promise of supporting working people, placing them at the centre of her policies, very different from a few decades ago when she made speeches opposing the national minimum wage, arguing that in certain economic situations, employers should not have to abide by it. She poked fun at Gordon Brown for not calling a general election after his take-over from Tony Blair, labelling him “scared.” Almost ten years on however she has ruled out calling an election, despite her unelected leadership. Embarrassing? And probably the most out there decision? Appointing Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary. A move that led to politicians, commentators, and comedians shaking their heads in despair.