So Britain has a new Prime Minister. However, not everyone is happy, and not just because she’s a Conservative. There have been many calls over the past few days for the incumbent Prime Minister Theresa May to hold a general election. From Labour, Lib Dems and the Greens, party activists are calling foul to the ex Home Secretary’s so-called ‘coronation’ to the position of PM.
People are calling this a coronation due to the lack of competition May faced whilst running for the Conservative leadership. Liam Fox and Michael Gove were eliminated in the ballots, whilst Steven Crabb and Andrea Leadsom withdrew, leaving May unopposed.
The leadership ‘contest’ if you could call it one, was a short but bloody one. Boris of course never ran. Michael Gove was knocked out of the race, and out of the cabinet, essentially committing political suicide. Indeed, his decision to maintain the idea he wouldn’t run for months, followed by a sudden change of heart, led to him to be labelled a ‘political serial killer’, with Andrew Marr comparing him to Frank Underwood in House of Cards. Meanwhile, Andrea Leadsom was the only obstacle to May’s premiership. Leadsom’s pro-Brexit stance made her popular amongst the Eurosceptic section of the Tories, however, she wasn’t seen to be able to unite the party as much as May would. To add insult to injury, in an interview in The Times, she suggested that she would have been a better PM since she is a mother – a remark that prompted backlash from fellow MPs and the general public. Many believe this may have been a factor in her withdrawal from the contest, although she cited the “best interests of the country” and the fact “businesses need stability”.
The above factors have lead to Theresa May becoming our second female Prime Minister. Her cabinet reshuffle has been described as a bloodbath, with outgoing ministers including heavy weights under Cameron like Nicky Morgan, Michael Gove and George Osborne. Much to the delight of those Eurosceptic MPs, she has appointed a varied cabinet of Remainers and Brexiteers, including a new job for David Davis as 'Brexit Secretary'.
One thing many people who have worked with Theresa May have pointed out, is her desirability to thoroughly go over details herself, and to make decisions independently. Now she is PM and no longer Home Secretary, there are far more decisions which she cannot make single-mindedly. She will have to deliberate, and many have said this may be something she will struggle with.
In her statement after Andrea Leadsom dropped out of the leadership race, May reiterated that she would bring a “different conservatism”. She has “parked her tanks on Labours lawn” with a seemingly benign style of Conservatism, promising “an economy that works for all”. She spoke of curbing powers of big business by creating policies such as putting workers on company boards, along with reforms to executive pay. She vowed to be a One Nation Prime Minister, creating a “Government working for all and not just the privileged few”. Are we seeing a resurgence of the centre-ground style of politics, exemplified by the likes of Tony Blair?
May’s apparent pursuit of social justice may be countered by her authoritarian stance, as seen by action of the Home Office’s creation of the Snoopers Charter, along with her vocal opposition to the European Convention on Human Rights, meaning she could lead a new brand of Conservatism, one that is strong on social mobility at the expense of personal freedoms. Whatever is in store over the coming months of her premiership, I along with many others look forward to seeing how Prime Minister May sets out to differ herself from her predecessor.
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