Theresa May

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The Right Honourable
Theresa May
MP
Home Secretary
Incumbent
Assumed office
12 May 2010
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byAlan Johnson
Minister for Women and Equalities
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byHarriet Harman (Women and Equality)
Succeeded byMaria Miller
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
19 January 2009 – 11 May 2010
LeaderDavid Cameron
Preceded byChris Grayling
Succeeded byYvette Cooper
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
6 December 2005 – 19 January 2009
LeaderDavid Cameron
Preceded byChris Grayling
Succeeded byAlan Duncan
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
In office
6 May 2005 – 6 December 2005
LeaderMichael Howard
Preceded byJohn Whittingdale
Succeeded byHugo Swire
Shadow Secretary of State for the Family
In office
19 June 2004 – 6 December 2005
LeaderMichael Howard
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and the Environment
In office
6 November 2003 – 19 June 2004
LeaderMichael Howard
Preceded byTim Collins (Transport)
David Lidington (Environment)
Succeeded byTim Yeo
Chairman 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 Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions
In office
18 September 2001 – 23 July 2002
LeaderIain Duncan Smith
Preceded byArchie Norman
Succeeded byDamian Green
Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Employment
In office
15 June 1999 – 18 September 2001
LeaderWilliam Hague
Preceded byDavid Willetts
Succeeded byDamian Green
Member of Parliament
for Maidenhead
Incumbent
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded byConstituency established
Majority16,769 (31.2%)
Personal details
BornTheresa Mary Brasier
(1956-10-01) 1 October 1956 (age 56)
Eastbourne, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Philip May
Alma materSt Hugh's College, Oxford
ReligionChurch of England
 
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The Right Honourable
Theresa May
MP
Home Secretary
Incumbent
Assumed office
12 May 2010
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byAlan Johnson
Minister for Women and Equalities
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byHarriet Harman (Women and Equality)
Succeeded byMaria Miller
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
19 January 2009 – 11 May 2010
LeaderDavid Cameron
Preceded byChris Grayling
Succeeded byYvette Cooper
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
6 December 2005 – 19 January 2009
LeaderDavid Cameron
Preceded byChris Grayling
Succeeded byAlan Duncan
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
In office
6 May 2005 – 6 December 2005
LeaderMichael Howard
Preceded byJohn Whittingdale
Succeeded byHugo Swire
Shadow Secretary of State for the Family
In office
19 June 2004 – 6 December 2005
LeaderMichael Howard
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and the Environment
In office
6 November 2003 – 19 June 2004
LeaderMichael Howard
Preceded byTim Collins (Transport)
David Lidington (Environment)
Succeeded byTim Yeo
Chairman 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 Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions
In office
18 September 2001 – 23 July 2002
LeaderIain Duncan Smith
Preceded byArchie Norman
Succeeded byDamian Green
Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Employment
In office
15 June 1999 – 18 September 2001
LeaderWilliam Hague
Preceded byDavid Willetts
Succeeded byDamian Green
Member of Parliament
for Maidenhead
Incumbent
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded byConstituency established
Majority16,769 (31.2%)
Personal details
BornTheresa Mary Brasier
(1956-10-01) 1 October 1956 (age 56)
Eastbourne, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Philip May
Alma materSt Hugh's College, Oxford
ReligionChurch of England

Theresa Mary May (née Brasier; born 1 October 1956) is a British Conservative politician who is the current Home Secretary. She was elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1997 as the Member of Parliament for Maidenhead, and served as the Chairman of the Conservative Party, 2003–04. Appointed to Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council in 2003, she became Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Shadow Minister for Women before being appointed to her current positions in Prime Minister David Cameron's Cabinet on 12 May 2010.

Contents

Early life, education and career

May was born 1 October 1956, in Eastbourne, Sussex. She is the daughter of Rev. Hubert Brasier, a Church of England clergyman, and Mrs Zaidee Brasier.[1][2] Her education was completed at a combination of state primary, independent convent and state secondary schools. She initially attended Heythrop Primary School, Oxfordshire,[3] followed by St. Juliana's Convent School for Girls, a Roman Catholic independent school in Begbroke, which closed in 1984. At the age of 13, she gained a place at the former Holton Park Girls' Grammar School in Wheatley in Oxfordshire. In 1971, the school was abolished and became the site of the new Wheatley Park Comprehensive School during her time as a pupil.[4] May then attended the University of Oxford where she read Geography at St Hugh's College, taking a BA (Hons) in 1977.

From 1977 to 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. She was a councillor in 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). In the 1992 general election May stood (and lost) in the safe Labour seat of North West Durham and then unsuccessfully contested the 1994 Barking by-election. In the 1997 general election May was elected the Conservative MP for Maidenhead which extends as far west as the village of Sonning on the East side of Reading where she lives.

Member of Parliament

Having entered Parliament, May became a member of William Hague's front-bench Opposition team, as Shadow Spokesman for Schools, Disabled People and Women (1998 – June 1999). May became the first of the 1997 MPs to enter the Shadow Cabinet when in 1999 she was appointed Shadow Education and Employment Secretary. After the 2001 election the new Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith retained her services in the Shadow Cabinet, moving her to the Transport portfolio.

May was appointed the first female chairman of the Conservative Party in July 2002. During her speech at the 2002 Conservative Party Conference while making a point about why her party must change, May controversially stated that the Conservatives were currently perceived as the "Nasty Party". In 2003, she was sworn of the Privy Council. On the election of Michael Howard as Conservative leader, he made May Shadow Secretary of State for Transport in November that year[5] and the Environment. However in June 2004 she was moved to the new position of Shadow Secretary of State for the Family. After the 2005 election May's portfolio was expanded and she became Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whilst remaining Shadow Secretary of State for the Family. David Cameron appointed her Shadow Leader of the House of Commons in December 2005 after his accession to the leadership. In January 2009 May was made Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

On 6 May 2010, Theresa May was re-elected as MP for Maidenhead with an increased majority of 16,769 — 60 per cent of the vote. This follows an earlier failed attempt to unseat her in 2005 as one of the targets of the Liberal Democrats' "decapitation" strategy.

Home Secretary

May 2010 to date

On 12 May 2010, May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron as part of his first cabinet. May becoming the fourth woman to hold one of the Great Offices of State, after (in order of seniority) Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister), Margaret Beckett (Foreign Secretary) and Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary).[6] May's debut as Home Secretary involved overturning several of the previous Labour government's measures on data collection and surveillance in England and Wales. By way of a government bill which became the Identity Documents Act 2010, she brought about the abolition of the previous Labour government's National Identity Card and database scheme[7][8] and also reformed the regulations on the retention of DNA samples for suspects and controls on the use of CCTV cameras. On 20 May 2010, May announced the adjournment of the deportation to the USA of alleged computer hacker Gary McKinnon.[9] She also suspended the registration scheme for carers of children and vulnerable people.[10][11] On 4 August 2010, The Independent reported that May was scrapping the former Labour government's proposed "go orders" scheme to protect women from domestic violence by banning abusers from the victim's home.[12] The same newspaper reported that this was followed on 6 August 2010 by the closure of the former Labour government's "ContactPoint" database of 11 million under 18 year olds designed to protect children in the wake of the Victoria Climbie child abuse scandal.[13]

On 2 June 2010, May faced her first major national security incident as Home Secretary with the Cumbria shootings.[14][15] May made her first major speech as Home Secretary in a statement on the incident to the House of Commons,[16] later visiting the victims with Prime Minister, David Cameron.[17][18] Also in June 2010, May banned the Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik from entering the United Kingdom.[19] As a result two Home Office officials who have disagreed with May's exclusion of Zakir Naik from Britain have been suspended from work.[20] In late June 2010, May announced plans for a temporary cap on UK visas for non-EU migrants.[21] The move raised concerns on the curb's impact on the UK economy.[22] Speaking at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) conference on 29 June 2010, May announced radical cuts to the Home Office budget which are likely to mean a reduction in police numbers.[23] In July 2010, it was reported that May had corresponded with Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of the missing child Madeleine McCann.[24] In August 2010, May attended a private meeting with Mr and Mrs McCann to discuss the case.[25]

In July 2010, May presented the House of Commons with her detailed proposals for a fundamental review of the previous Labour Party government's security and counter-terrorism legislation including "stop and search" powers and her intention to review the 28 day limit on detaining terrorist suspects without charge.[26][27] The repeals were condemned by the Opposition Labour Shadow Home Secretary Alan Johnson.[28] In mid-July 2010, May oversaw a second major gun incident in the North of England with an unsuccessful week-long police operation to capture and arrest Raoul Moat, an ex-convict who shot three people, killing one. The suspect later shot himself dead.[29][30] During the incident, Moat was shot with a long-range taser. It later transpired that the firm supplying the taser, Pro-Tect, was in breach of its licence by supplying the police directly with the weapon. Its licence was revoked by the Home Office after the Moat shooting. On 1 October 2010, the BBC reported that the director of the company, Peter Boatman, had apparently killed himself over the incident.[31]

In August 2010, May banned the English Defence League from holding marches in Bradford, West Yorkshire planned for Saturday 28 August. The EDL protested the ban claiming they planned a 'peaceful demonstration'.[32] Around 2 pm on the day of the ban, violent disturbances between EDL members and their opponents were reported in Bradford, calling for intervention by riot police.[33][34]

In early September 2010, allegations resurfaced regarding the phone tapping scandal which saw tabloid newspaper journalists jailed in 2009 for intercepting the mobile phone messages of major public figures in Britain. The case involved a journalist employed by former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, now director of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron. (Coulson was absolved of any role in the bugging incidents during a House of Commons enquiry in 2009.) Labour party leadership candidate Ed Balls called on the Home Secretary to make a statement on the matter.[35] On 5 September, May told the BBC that there were "no grounds for a public enquiry" on the case.[36] However Scotland Yard (Metropolitan Police Service) has said it will consider re-examining evidence on the allegations.[37] On Monday 6 September 2010, May faced parliamentary questions on the allegations following an intervention by the Speaker of the House of Commons.[38][39]

On 9 December 2010 in the wake of violent student demonstrations against increases to Higher Education tuition fees held in central London, May praised the actions of the police in controlling the demonstrations but was described by the Daily Telegraph as "under growing political pressure" due to her handling of the demonstrations.[40][41]

In December 2010, May had said that the deployment of water cannon by police forces on the British Mainland was an operational decision which had been "resisted until now by senior police officers."[42] On 9 August 2011, May rejected their use and said: "The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon. The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities." May said: "I condemn utterly the violence in Tottenham... Such disregard for public safety and property will not be tolerated, and the Metropolitan Police have my full support in restoring order."[43] She returned to the UK from holiday to meet with senior police officials on 8 August.

In the aftermath of the riots May has revealed that she wants as many of the young criminals identifying as possible. She said: “When I was in Manchester last week, the issue was raised to me about the anonymity of juveniles who are found guilty of crimes of this sort. The Crown Prosecution Service is to order prosecutors to apply for anonymity to be lifted in any youth case they think it is in the public interest. The law currently protects the identity of any suspect under the age of 18, even if they are convicted, but it also allows for an application to have such restrictions lifted, if deemed appropriate. May added that "What I've asked is that CPS guidance should go to prosecutors to say that where possible, they should be asking for the anonymity of juveniles who are found guilty of criminal activity to be lifted."[44]

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 deemed was allowed to remain in the UK, "because - and I am not making this up - he had a pet cat". In response, the Royal Courts of Justice issued a statement, denying that this was the reason for the tribunal's decision in that case, and instead stated that the real reason was that he was in a genuine relationship with a British partner, and owning a pet cat was simply one of many pieces of evidence given to show that the relationship was "genuine". The Home Office had failed to apply its own rules for dealing with unmarried partners of people settled in the UK.[45] The Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, subsequently called May's comments "laughable and childlike.".[46]

In May 2012, she expressed support for the introduction of same sex marriage by recording a video for the Out4Marriage campaign.[47]

In June 2012, May was found to be in contempt of court by Judge, Barry Cotter, QC, and stood accused of ‘totally unacceptable and regrettable behavior' having said to have shown complete disregard to a legal agreement to free an Algerian from a UK Immigration detention centre. As she eventually allowed the prisoner to be freed, May avoided further sanctions including fines or imprisonment.[48][49]

Major proposals as Home Secretary

Police re-organisation

On 26 July 2010, May announced a package of radical reforms to policing in England and Wales in a speech to the House of Commons.[50] Police Authorities are set to be abolished in favour of elected Police and Crime Commissioners.[51] The previous government's central crime agency, Soca (Serious Organised Crime Agency) will be replaced by a new National Crime Agency. In common with the Conservative Party's 2010 general election manifesto's flagship proposal for a "Big Society" based on voluntary action, May also proposed to increase the role of civilian 'reservists' in crime control. The reforms have been rejected by the opposition Labour Party.[50]

Following the actions of a minority of Black Bloc in vandalising allegedly tax-avoiding shops and businesses on the day of the 26 March TUC march the Home Secretary unveiled reforms[52] curbing the right to protest, including giving police extra powers to remove masked individuals and to police social networking sites to prevent illegal protest without police consent or notification.[53]

Anti-social behaviour

On 28 July 2010, May proposed to review the previous Labour Party government's anti-social behaviour legislation signalling the abolition of the "Anti-Social Behaviour Order" (ASBO). She identified the policy's high level of failure with almost half of ASBOs breached between 2000 and 2008, leading to "fast track" criminal convictions. May proposed a less punitive, community-based approach to tackling social disorder. May suggested that anti-social behaviour policy "must be turned on its head", reversing the ASBO's role as the flagship crime control policy legislation under Labour.[54][55] Former Labour Home Secretaries David Blunkett (who introduced ASBOs) and Alan Johnson expressed their disapproval of the proposals.[56]

Minister for Women and Equality

May at Breast Cancer charity event

May's appointment to the role was initially criticised by some members of the LGBT/gay rights movement,[57] as she had voted against lowering the age of consent (in 1998) and against greater adoption rights for homosexuals (in 2002), voting in favour of civil partnerships.[58][59] May later stated, during an appearance on the BBC's Question Time, that she had "changed her mind" on gay adoption.[60] Writing for Pink News in June 2010, May clarified her proposals for improving LGBT rights including measures to tackle homophobia in sport, advocating a need for 'cultural change' in British society.[61] May publicly gave her support for same-sex marriage in a video for campaign group Out4Marriage in May 2012.[62]

On 2 July 2010, May stated she would be supporting the previous Labour government's anti-discrimination laws enshrined in the Equality Act 2010 though she had previously opposed this legislation.[63] The Equality Act came into effect in England, Wales and Scotland on 1 October 2010.[64]

On 17 November 2010, May announced the "socio-economic duty" legislation (also known as "Harman's Law") was to be scrapped.[65] The law would have required public bodies to consider how they can reduce socio-economic inequalities when making decisions about spending and services;[66] the legislation was part of the Equality Act which did not come into force in October and was put up for review.[67]

Controversies

TVShack case

Theresa May has come under sharp criticism for allowing extradition of Richard O'Dwyer, a student who founded TVShack streaming site.[68] During a YouGov survey [69] over 70% of individuals disagreed with Richard O'Dwyer's extradition.

Personal life and public image

She married Philip John May on 6 September 1980[citation needed] and has no children.[70] Outside politics, May states her interests as walking and cooking.[71] May's fashion choices and well-publicised fondness for designer shoes often draw comment in the media.[72][73] Journalists have drawn parallels between May's shift to designer apparel and her political rise in fortunes since her debut as an MP.[74]

Since coming to prominence in front-bench politics, May's public image has also tended to polarise media opinion, especially from the traditionalist right-wing press.[75] Commenting on May's debut as Home Secretary, Anne Perkins of The Guardian observed that 'she'll be nobody's stooge',[76] while Cristina Odone of The Daily Telegraph judged her to be 'the rising star' of the coalition government.[77] Quentin Letts of The Daily Mail later described May's performance in the role of Home Secretary as 'unflappable'[78] and Allegra Stratton, then with The Guardian described May as showing managerial acumen.[79]

May and her husband own two houses whose value has been estimated at £1.6 million.[80] Her parliamentary expenses have been 'modest' (only just over £15,000 for the past four years) in recent years.[81]

Theresa May is an Anglican and attends church every Sunday.[82]

Activism and awards

Prior to her promotion to Government, May has actively supported a variety of campaigns on policy issues in her constituency and at the national level of politics. She has spoken at the Fawcett Society promoting the cross-party issue of gender equality. May was nominated as one of the Society's Inspiring Women of 2006.[83]

May opposes the European Union (Eurosceptic), and she wants to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998.[84]

She is the Patron of Reading University Conservative Association, the largest political student group in Royal Berkshire (the county of her Maidenhead constituency).[85]

She has also received the Freedom of the City of London, and subsequently was pleased to join the Livery of the Worshipful Company of Marketors.

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
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1997–present
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Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Employment
1998–2001
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Archie Norman
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions
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Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
2003–2004
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Position established
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2004–2005
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Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
2005
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Hugo Swire
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2005–2009
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Alan Duncan
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Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
2009–2010
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Yvette Cooper
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Harriet Harman
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2010–present
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2002–2003
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The Lord Saatchi