Theresa May has taken over as Britain’s new Prime Minister. She is the second woman PM in Britain’s history, after Margaret Thatcher.
May replaced David Cameron to take over the Brexit negotiations and ease the process of Britain’s exit from European Union.
After moving into 10 Downing Street, May vowed to forge “a bold new positive role” for the UK in the world post-Brexit.
“We face a time of great national change…As we leave the European Union we will forge a bold new positive world for ourselves, and we will make Britain a country that works for everyone of us….That will be the mission of the government I lead, and together we will build a better Britain,” she said while referring to the EU referendum where Britain voted for an exit last month.
“In David Cameron, I follow in the footsteps of a great, modern prime minister… he led a one-nation government and it is in that spirit I also plan to lead,” she said in her first speech as PM.
May paid a traditional visit to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace before taking over.
May has to carry out the big task of a smooth Brexit transition. Pressure has already begun to mount as European Union leaders and heads of other European nations have urged May to begin Brexit negotiations as soon as possible.
One of May’s first decisions will be when she plans to trigger Article 50 — the formal procedure for withdrawal from the EU — which would set a two-year deadline for completing exit negotiations.
Ironically, May supported Britain staying in the bloc at the time of the crucial referendum. But she did maintain a low profile during the campaign and insisted she will honour the popular vote.
In her speech, May addressed the working classes and vowed to stand up against “the privileged few”.
“When we pass new laws we’ll listen not to the mighty, but to you. When it comes to taxes we’ll prioritise not the wealthy but you….When it comes to opportunity we won’t entrench the advantages of the fortunate few. We will do everything we can to help anybody, whatever your background, to go as far as your talents will take you,” she said.
May hit the ground running and named some crucial cabinet ministers within minutes of taking charge at 10 Downing Street.
As expected, May created a new portfolio of “Brexit Secretary” and appointed David Davis, a former shadow Home Minister, to head the new department in charge of Brexit.
She also named Philip Hammond as Britain’s new Finance Minister and Boris Johnson, the former London mayor who spearheaded the ‘Leave’ campaign as the new Foreign Secretary.
Another new department of International Trade has been created, indicating the importance of striking new trade agreements in the wake of Brexit. Liam Fox has been made in-charge of International Trade.
May’s first meeting with key EU leaders could be at the G20 summit in China on September 4. Also, she is scheduled to meet all other 27 EU leaders at the next European Council summit on October 20-21.
Earlier, Cameron in his farewell speech as Prime Minister wished May well.
“I believe Theresa will provide strong and stable leadership in fulfilling the Conservative manifesto on which we were elected, and I wish her well in negotiating the best possible terms for Britain’s exit from the European Union,” said Cameron as he departed from Downing Street.
(With inputs from agencies)