Theresa May

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For the British glamour model, see Teresa May.
The Right Honourable
Theresa May
MP
Theresa May - Home Secretary and minister for women and equality.jpg
Home Secretary
Incumbent
Assumed office
11 May 2010
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Alan Johnson
Minister for Women and Equalities
In office
11 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Harriet Harman
Succeeded by Maria Miller
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
19 January 2009 – 11 May 2010
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Chris Grayling
Succeeded by Yvette Cooper
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
6 December 2005 – 19 January 2009
Leader David Cameron
Preceded by Chris Grayling
Succeeded by Alan Duncan
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
In office
6 November 2003 – 6 December 2005
Leader Michael Howard
Preceded by Tim Collins
Succeeded by Tim Yeo
Chairman of the Conservative Party
In office
23 July 2002 – 6 November 2003
Leader Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by David Davis
Succeeded by Liam Fox
The Lord Saatchi
Member of Parliament
for Maidenhead
Incumbent
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by Constituency established
Majority 16,769 (31.2%)
Personal details
Born Theresa Mary Brasier
(1956-10-01) 1 October 1956 (age 57)
Eastbourne, United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Philip May
Alma mater St Hugh's College, Oxford
Religion Anglicanism

Theresa Mary May PC MP (née Brasier; born 1 October 1956) is a British Conservative politician, and the current UK Home Secretary.

May was first elected to Parliament in 1997 as Member of Parliament for Maidenhead. She went on to be appointed Chairman of the Conservative Party and was sworn of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council in 2002.

She served in a number of roles in the Shadow Cabinets of Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard and David Cameron, including Shadow Leader of the House of Commons and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.

When Cameron became Prime Minister in May 2010, May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities; delegating the latter role in 2012 to Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (2012–14).

Early life, education and career[edit]

St Hugh's College, Oxford

Born on 1 October 1956 at Eastbourne, Sussex, May is the daughter of Rev. Hubert Brasier, an Anglican clergyman by his wife, Zaidee née Barnes.[1][2][3]

May was educated at primary and grammar schools in the State sector, as well as a short spell at an independent Catholic school. She initially attended Heythrop Primary School, Oxfordshire,[4] 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 won 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.[5] May then went up to the University of Oxford where she read Geography at St Hugh's College, graduating with a BA (Hons) degree in 1977.

Between 1977 and 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 served as a Councillor for 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 unsuccessfully in the safe Labour seat of North West Durham and subsequently failed to win the 1994 Barking by-election. In the 1997 general election May was elected as Conservative MP for Maidenhead which extends westerly almost as far as Reading to the village where she lives.

Member of Parliament[edit]

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 illustrating the reason why her Party must change, May naïvely coined the phrase that the Conservatives were then perceived as the "Nasty Party". In 2003, she was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Transport after Michael Howard's election as Conservative Party and HM Opposition Leader in November that year[6] 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, 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 Liberal Democrats' leading "decapitation-strategy" targets.

Home Secretary[edit]

On 12 May 2010, May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality by Prime Minister David Cameron as part of his first Cabinet, thereby becoming the fourth woman to hold one of the UK Great Offices of State, after (in order of seniority) Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister), Margaret Beckett (Foreign Secretary) and Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary).[7] 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 Labour Government's National Identity Card and database scheme[8][9] 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.[10] She also suspended the registration scheme for carers of children and vulnerable people.[11][12] 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.[13] The same newspaper reported that this was followed on 6 August 2010 by the closure of the previous Government's "ContactPoint" database of 11 million under-18-year olds designed to protect children in the wake of the Victoria Climbié child abuse scandal.[14]

On 2 June 2010, May faced her first major national security incident as Home Secretary with the Cumbria shootings.[15][16] May delivered her first major speech in the House of Commons as Home Secretary in a statement on this incident [17] later visiting the victims with Prime Minister, David Cameron.[18][19] Also in June 2010, May banned the Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik from entering the United Kingdom,[20] which also resulted in two Home Office officials who disagreed with the Government's policy of excluding Zakir Naik from Britain being suspended from work.[21] In late June 2010, May announced plans for a temporary cap on UK visas for non-EU migrants.[22] The move raised concerns on the curb's impact on the UK economy.[23] Speaking at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) conference on 29 June 2010, May announced radical cuts to the Home Office budget, likely to lead to a reduction in police numbers.[24] In July 2010, it was reported that May had corresponded with Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of the missing child Madeleine McCann.[25] In August 2010, May attended a private meeting with Mr and Mrs McCann to discuss their case.[26]

In July 2010, May presented the House of Commons with her detailed proposals for a fundamental review of the previous Labour 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.[27][28] The repeals were condemned by the Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Alan Johnson.[29] 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.[30][31] 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.[32]

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".[33] 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.[34][35]

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, who became 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 to the House on the matter.[36] On 5 September, May told the BBC that this case merited "no grounds for a public enquiry".[37] However Scotland Yard (Metropolitan Police Service) has said it might consider re-examining evidence on the allegations.[38] On Monday 6 September 2010, May faced parliamentary questions over the allegations following an intervention by Speaker Bercow.[39][40]

On 9 December 2010 in the wake of violent student demonstrations in central London, against increases to Higher Education Tuition Fees, 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 protests.[41][42]

In December 2010, May declared that deployment of water cannon by police forces in mainland Britain was an operational decision which had been "resisted until now by senior police officers."[43] 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."[44] She returned to the UK from holiday to meet with senior police officials on 8 August.

In the aftermath of the riots May urged the identification of as many as possible of the young criminals involved. 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 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 for 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."[45]

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 ruled 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 not 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.[46] Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, subsequently called May's comments "laughable and childlike."[47]

In May 2012, she expressed support for the introduction of Same Sex Marriage by recording a video for the Out4Marriage campaign.[48]

In June 2012, May was found in contempt of court by Judge Barry Cotter QC, and stood accused of "totally unacceptable and regrettable behaviour" 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.[49][50]

In June 2013, May signed an order prohibiting Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, two American bloggers who co-founded the anti-Muslim group Stop Islamization of America, from entering the United Kingdom on the basis that their presence would not be "conducive to the public good".[51][52] The pair had been invited to attend an English Defence League march at Woolwich, where Drummer Lee Rigby had been killed earlier that year.[51] The pressure group Hope not Hate led a campaign to exclude the pair, whom the Home Office described as "inflammatory speakers who promote hate".[53][54]

On 29 August 2014, the British government raised the terrorist threat level to "severe," as Prime Minister David Cameron and May warned a terrorist attack was "highly likely," following the coming to prominence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. May admitted that although the threat level had been hiked to the second-highest possible, there was no intelligence warning of an imminent attack.[55]

Police reorganisation[edit]

On 26 July 2010, May announced a package of reforms to policing in England and Wales in the House of Commons.[56] Police Authorities were set to be abolished in favour of elected Police and Crime Commissioners.[57] The previous Labour Government's central crime agency, Soca (Serious Organised Crime Agency) was to be replaced by a new National Crime Agency. In common with the Conservative Party 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" for crime control. The reforms were rejected by the Opposition Labour Party.[56]

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[58] 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.[59]

Anti-social behaviour[edit]

On 28 July 2010, May proposed to review the previous Labour 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.[60][61] Unsurprisingly, former Labour Home Secretaries David Blunkett (who introduced ASBOs) and Alan Johnson expressed their disapproval of the proposals.[62]

Restricting family migration[edit]

On 11 June 2012, May, as Home Secretary, announced to Parliament that new restrictions would be introduced, intended to reduce the number of non-European Economic Area family migrants. The changes were mostly intended to apply to new applicants after 9 July 2012.[63] The new rules came into effect from 9 July 2012 allowing only those British citizens earning more than £18,600 and have a minimum savings of £16,000 to bring their spouse or their child to live with them in the UK. This figure would rise significantly in cases where visa applications are also made for children. They also increased the current two-year probationary period for partners to five years. The rules also prevent any adult and elderly dependents from settling in the UK unless they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK.[64] The rules were introduced by the 'back door' without a proper debate[65] and were criticised later as being arbitrary, dividing families, disrupting integration by a variety of different civil society groups.[66] An MP, who was concerned abou this, addressed May in Parliament as to whether she had examined the impact on communities and families on modest incomes, but he received no direct response.[67] Liberty concluded that the new rules showed scant regard to the impact they would have on genuine families.[68] The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration conducted an evidence based inquiry into the impact of the rules and concluded in their report that the rules were causing very young children to be separated from their parents and could exile British citizens from the UK.[69]

Minister for Women and Equality[edit]

May at a Breast Cancer Campaign charity event.

May's appointment as Minister for Women and Equality was initially criticised by some members of the LGBT/gay rights movement,[70] since she had voted against lowering the age of consent (in 1998) and against greater adoption rights for homosexuals (in 2002), voting instead in favour of civil partnerships.[71][72] May later stated, during an appearance on the BBC's Question Time, that she had "changed her mind" on gay adoption.[73] Writing for Pink News in June 2010, May clarified her proposals for improving LGBT rights including measures to tackle homophobia in sport, advocating British society's need for "cultural change".[74] May publicly demonstrated support for same-sex marriage in a video for campaign group Out4Marriage in May 2012.[75]

On 2 July 2010, May stated she would be supporting the previous Labour Government's Anti-Discrimination Laws enshrined in the Equality Act 2010 despite having previously opposed this legislation.[76] The Equality Act came into effect in England, Wales and Scotland on 1 October 2010.[77]

On 17 November 2010, May announced the "socio-economic duty" legislation (alias "Harman's Law") was to be scrapped.[78] This Law would have required public bodies to consider how they can reduce socio-economic inequalities when making decisions about spending and services;[79] the legislation was part of the Equality Act which did not come into force in October and was put up for review as being unworkable.[80]

Controversies[edit]

UK/US sensitive data problems[edit]

The American company ETS, processors of the UK's secondary-school exam results (SATS), and the TOEIC, had become the source of controversy in 2008 under Ed Balls tenure at the Department for Education, which came back under scrutiny with the release of a BBC Panorama piece tying in ETS with illegal immigration in the UK.[81]

UK/US extradition cases[edit]

May received sharp criticism for allowing the extradition of Richard O'Dwyer, a student and founder of the TVShack streaming site.[82] In a YouGov survey[83] over 70% of those polled disagreed with Richard O'Dwyer's extradition. May was also criticised for her handling of the extradition of Syed Talha Ahsan. The Ahsan extradition case raised controversy due to comparison with the treatment of Gary McKinnon, whose extradition - which was expected to be 10 days after Ahsan's - was stalled after his medical diagnosis of Asperger syndrome and associative risks, similar to a diagnosis given to Ahsan. This has led to accusations from some British media, Human Rights NGOs as well as religious groups of a racist double standard in the Home Secretary's application of the Law.[84][85][86][87][88][89][90][91][92]

Banning of khat[edit]

In July 2013, May decided to ban the mild stimulant khat, against the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. The council reached the conclusion that there was "insufficient evidence" it caused health problems,[93] while May argued that the mere possibility of harming evidence existing was sufficient grounds for banning something - "we risk underestimating the actual harms of khat in our communities owing to the limitations of the evidence base available to the ACMD".[94]

The decision sparked anger in the Somali, Ethiopian and Yemeni communities in UK, who have used the plant for centuries, and a range of drug experts and policy campaigners condemned the Home Secretary's decision as "yet another disappointment". One group, Release, said: "once again the Government chooses to ignore the evidence when it comes to drug policy. The ACMD recommended that Khat should not be banned, and this has been ignored. There is no evidence that criminalisation has any tangible effect on the rates of drug use in a society."[95]

Concerns about the effects of the ban include the cost of enforcing and prosecuting those using Khat, and that it would drive the trade underground. Currently, "there is no evidence of Khat consumption being directly linked with serious or organised criminal behaviour in the UK or to support the theory that Khat is funding or fuelling crime. This is unsurprising given Khat is not an illegal drug, is not a high-value substance and therefore attracts very little profit from the UK market", but "it can be assumed that if the price of Khat increases, for example due to criminalisation, there is the potential for exploitation by organised criminal gangs already involved in the illegal drug trade and this would arguably increase funds available to such networks and groups if Khat use went underground".[96]

Comments on detention of David Miranda[edit]

In August 2013 May was accused by Lord Macdonald of an "extremely ugly and unhelpful" attempt to implicate opponents of David Miranda's detention in condoning terrorism. May had suggested that anyone opposed to using controversial anti-terrorism laws against journalists was condoning terrorism. Macdonald raised the "perfectly legitimate" issue of finding the balance between security and liberty, and suggested that we "wait and see what the independent review of this episode has to say before we start accusing people of condoning terrorism and nonsense of that sort".[97]

According to The Guardian newspaper, Miranda was found to have been carrying an external hard drive containing 58,000 highly classified UK intelligence documents, and his detention was ruled lawful by the UK High Court, which accepted that Miranda's detention and the seizure of computer material was "an indirect interference with press freedom" but said this was justified by legitimate and "very pressing" interests of national security.[98]

Members of the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) in Parliament said that allowing police to stop and search suspects at airports without suspicion was “not inherently incompatible” with human rights. MPs and peers said they agreed anti-terror officers should be able to “stop, question, request documentation and physically search persons and property” even when they did not have reasonable suspicion that an offence had been committed. But they urged the Government to introduce new restrictions on powers such as strip-searches, detentions and searches of the contents of electronic devices such as laptops and smartphones, and said that these “more intrusive” measures should only take place when officers had reasonable suspicion that someone was involved in terrorism.[99]

"End of life plan" for mentally ill asylum seeker[edit]

Under her tenure the Home Office refused to release a mentally ill Nigerian man Isa Muazu on hunger-strike living in an asylum centre. In order to strengthen the Home Office's tough stance an "end of life' plan was offered to the individual.[100][101]

Contempt of Court[edit]

In June 2012, May was found to be in contempt of court by Judge Barry Cotter QC, standing accused of "totally unacceptable and regrettable behaviour" 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.[49][50]

Ugandan lesbian dies after being deported from the UK[edit]

Under her tenure at the Home Office, Ugandan lesbian, Jackie Nanyonjo was deported. On 10 January 2013 the UK Border Agency told her she was to be deported on an EgyptAir flight, despite having applied for a judicial review of her case. When the airline was told she was being sent back against her will, it refused to carry her, but Qatar Airways agreed with the UKBA to fly her to Entebbe.

She was accompanied on the flight by four security escorts from Reliance Security who, her friends claimed, beat her throughout the flight forcing her head down between her legs, and attempted to strangle her. By the time she left the plane she was vomiting blood from the injuries she had received, but was not given medical attention. When she was released to family members several hours after her arrival, and after being held by Ugandan authorities at the airport, they rushed her to a clinic. She was in hiding as a known lesbian, protected by relatives; every trip to a doctor or hospital involved a risk to her life and to the safety of her family.[102][103][104][105][106]

Banning of Zakir Naik from entering the UK[edit]

In June 2010, May barred Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik from entering the United Kingdom.[107][108][109] As a result two Home Office civil servants who vocalised to the Government's ruling to exclude Zakir Naik from Britain were suspended from duty.[110]

Removal of passport of an Iraqi-born man, on the 2nd occasion[edit]

In November 2013, May removed the passport of Hilal Al Jedda, although he had won an appeal in the Supreme Court in November 2013. The Supreme Court had ruled that rescinding Al Jedda's passport was unlawful. Having entered the UK under the guise of an asylum seeker in 1992, he first lost his British passport in 2007 after serving three years at a military detention centre in Iraq for suspected terrorism offences. Al Jedda became the first person to be stripped twice of British citizenship.[111][112][113][114]

Deportation of Israeli Palestinian cleric on arrival to the UK[edit]

In June 2011 Raed Salah succeeded in entering the United Kingdom but soon after it was established that he had been banned a few hours previously. He was arrested but his ban was overturned by an Immigration Court.[115][116][117][118][119]

False deportation cat claims[edit]

May has come under criticism by Labour and human rights organizations over her comments about a deportation case involving a man who fought deportation by providing details of his relationship with a woman from the UK, including the fact they had a pet cat.

May used the case as an example in an attack on the Human Rights Act and Article 8 that an illegal immigrant avoided deportation because of his pet cat, saying "we all know the stories about the Human Rights Act ... about the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because, and I am not making this up, he had a pet cat." However, a Spokesman for the Judicial Office at the Royal Courts of Justice, which issues statements on behalf of High Court Justices, said the pet had "had nothing to do with" the judgement allowing the man to stay.

Human Rights campaigners criticised the comment and said May "urgently needs to get her facts straight", while Amnesty International said May's comments only fuelled "myths and misconceptions" about the Human Rights Act and the fact "that someone in Theresa May's position can be so misinformed as to parade out a story about someone being allowed to stay in Britain because of a cat is nothing short of alarming."[120]

Birmingham schools row[edit]

In June 2014, an inflamed public argument arose between Home Office and Education Ministers about responsibility for alleged extremism in Birmingham schools.[121][122] Prime Minister David Cameron's intervened to resolve the row, insisting that May sack her Special Advisor Fiona Cunningham for releasing on May's website a confidential letter to May's colleagues,[123] and that Gove, the Education Secretary, apologise to the Home Office's head of Security and Counter-Terrorism, Charles Farr, for uncomplimentary briefings of him appearing on the front page of The Times.[124][125]

Passport backlog[edit]

By mid 2014, American company 3M which makes the RFID microchips hidden in new passports, and their client, the Passport Office, revealed allegations of a large backlog in developing processing passport applications appeared.[126] David Cameron suggested that this had come about due to the Passport Office's receiving an "above normal" 300,000-rise in applications.[127] It was revealed, however, that May had been warned the year before, in July 2013, that a surge of 350,000 extra applications could occur owing to the closure of processing overseas under Chancellor Osborne's programme of cuts.[128]

Personal life and public image[edit]

She married Philip John May on 6 September 1980; the couple have no children.[129] Outside politics, May lists her interests as walking and cooking.[130] May's fashion choices and well-publicised fondness for designer shoes often draw comment in the media.[131][132] Journalists have drawn parallels between May's shift to designer apparel and her political rise in fortunes since her parliamentary debut.[133]

Since coming into prominence as a front-bench politician, May's public image has divided media opinion, especially from some in the traditionalist right-wing press.[134] Commenting on May's debut as Home Secretary, Anne Perkins of The Guardian observed that "she'll be nobody's stooge",[135] while Cristina Odone of The Daily Telegraph predicted her to be "the rising star" of the Coalition Government.[136] Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail later complimented May's Home Secretary performances as "unflappable"[137] and Allegra Stratton, then with The Guardian, praised May as showing managerial acumen.[138] In February 2013, Labour MP Keith Vaz was reported to have commented on May's significant weight loss, describing her as "thin" in comparison to her previous fuller figure. May had become visibly slimmer after early 2013 which she attributed to dieting and exercise.[139] However, she later revealed that she had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.[140]

May and her husband own two houses with a combined estimated value of £1.6 million.[141] Her parliamentary expenses have been "modest" (about £15,000 in the past four years) in recent years.[142]

May is an Anglican who regularly worships at church on Sunday.[143]

Activism and awards[edit]

Prior to and since her appointment to Government, May actively supports 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.[144]

May is a mild Eurosceptic, but has expressed her desire for repealing the Human Rights Act 1998.[145]

She is the Patron of Reading University Conservative Association, the largest political student group in Berkshire (the county of her Maidenhead constituency).[146]

May has also received the Freedom of the City of London, and been admitted to the Worshipful Company of Marketors, a "livery company for senior people in the marketing profession".

In February 2013, BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour broadcast her as being Britain's second most powerful woman.[147]

References[edit]

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
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Maidenhead

1997–present
Incumbent
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Tim Collins
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
2003–2005
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Tim Yeo
Preceded by
Chris Grayling
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
2005–2009
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Alan Duncan
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Chris Grayling
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
2009–2010
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Yvette Cooper
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Harriet Harman
Minister for Women and Equalities
2010–2012
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Maria Miller
Preceded by
Alan Johnson
Home Secretary
2010–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
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David Davis
Chairman of the Conservative Party
2002–2003
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Liam Fox
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The Lord Saatchi