Britain gets a new Prime Minister tomorrow, and for the first time since the reign of Margaret Thatcher it’ll be a woman occupying 10 Downing Street.
Home Secretary Theresa May will receive the ultimate promotion tomorrow after the Conservative leadership election triggered by David Cameron’s falling on his sword was ended early as Andrea Leadsom quit yesterday morning.
Theresa May was quickly becoming the obvious choice to succeed David Cameron – with years’ worth of Cabinet experience and a strong Conservative streak that would endear herself to a party faithful split in two by Brexit.
What is also crucial in this post-Brexit world is that the UK will still have a Prime Minister that views Europe as an ally and will work to ensure that whatever relationship the UK has with the continent when the break finally happens that it will be on good terms.
I cannot stress enough how unappetising the prospect of either Michael Gove or Andrea Leadsom would have been as PM, with both lacking any conviction or gravitas of any kind worthy enough to stand Britain’s ground in what will be extremely trying years to come. Both viewed Brexit as a way to advance their careers, especially in Gove’s case, and neither had any real or positive ways of making what they campaigned for work – which is the epitome of poor leadership. Leadsom in particular was a candidate I felt would have been completely out of their depth, as was proved when she appeared in the ITV EU referendum debate.
But while Theresa May is the best we could have hoped for, it’s still not to say that the Tories are going to be any less brutal than the austerity measures imposed by David Cameron.
May’s overriding theme as Home Secretary was one of cracking down on civil liberties in the name of combating perceived threats, with a laundry list as detailed her on Spiked including:
- The Psychoactive Substances Bill which banned many legal highs that were considered safe
- New rules that allow non EU nationals earning less than £35,000 to be deported
- Deporting as many as 50,000 students for failing English tests
- Sending out vans across London telling illegal immigrants to “go home or face arrest”
These attitudes are dangerous and the idea that these policies will be at the heart of a May Government is deeply worrying. Britain, now more than ever after voting to leave the EU, needs to be a country that proves to be a beacon of inclusiveness and openness – and that is far from the vision that our new Prime Minister has set out in her role as Home Secretary.
How the rest of May’s policy vision will pan out is still unclear, with her nod towards abandoning George Osborne’s overly-ambitious target of running a surplus by 2020 being the only real policy shift her short-lived campaign managed to put out.
The devil, as always, will be in the detail – but Theresa May should be a Prime Minister that Conservatives will rally around and that will achieve what can only be described as the best from a bad situation out of Brexit.
What that will mean for the UK and the wider world though is still far from clear.