(The Home Secretary and soon-to-be Prime Minister Theresa May)
Theresa May will be the next British prime minister. Following the departure of Andrea Leadsom from the Tory leadership race, May is poised to take over the reins from Cameron, who announced his intention to step down following the disastrous Brexit referendum vote that has plunged Europe and world markets into turmoil.
May’s task to extricate Great Britain from the European Union is no small matter. A first for the multi-national body since its foundation in 1958, one of its members will withdraw using Article 50, the legislative tool that British authorities will need to formally trigger in order to follow through with Brexit.
Those wises, however may have changed a bit over the past few weeks. As we discussed on The Tap, many British voters began regretting their decision to vote ‘no’ almost immediately after polling for the referendum ended. Talks of independence and unification are buzzing in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively, both of which voted to stay within the EU.
Enter Theresa May, the UK’s home secretary and soon-to-be prime minister. This Wednesday, Cameron will formally end his tenure, beginning the next chapter of the Brexit saga as May navigates the way forward as Prime Minister.
Since her entry into the British political scene as a parliamentarian in 1997, May has operated as a social liberal within her party, supporting equal pay for women and backing gay marriage. She strikes a much harsher line on immigration, for which she initiated draconian rules during her tenure as home secretary that have hurt the British economy and unduly burdened LGBTQ refugees.
May supported the ‘remain’ camp during the referendum, though in an halfhearted fashion. British political insiders consider this a deliberate strategy to position herself as a palatable leader for both the pro- and anti-Brexit camps within the party.
And make no mistake about it, she has every intention of following through with British voters’ shocking decision to leave the EU.
“Brexit means Brexit,” May has repeatedly said. In an interview with the BBC, she remarked that “as prime minister, I will make sure we will leave the European Union,” stating further that there will be “no attempts to remain inside the EU.”
She also maintains that Britain does not need to trigger Article 50 immediately. Pro-Brexit leaders are interested in delaying the process in order to negotiate the best deal possible to keep access to the EU market.
For its part, the EU has no interest in making things easy for Britain as it does not wish to send the message to other nations within the bloc – including struggling members such as Greece – that leaving is good idea with minimal consequences.
This could amount to a politically impossible position for May. As the drama over Brexit continues, we’ll see what path she takes from the current place of ambiguity and uncertainly she currently occupies.