|The Right Honourable
11 May 2010
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Alan Johnson|
|Minister for Women and Equalities|
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|
19 January 2009 – 11 May 2010
|Preceded by||Chris Grayling|
|Succeeded by||Yvette Cooper|
|Shadow Minister for Women and Equality|
2 July 2007 – 11 May 2010
|Preceded by||Eleanor Laing|
|Succeeded by||Yvette Cooper|
15 June 1999 – 18 September 2001
Shadow Minister for Women
|Preceded by||Gillian Shephard|
|Succeeded by||Caroline Spelman|
|Shadow Leader of the House of Commons|
6 December 2005 – 19 January 2009
|Preceded by||Chris Grayling|
|Succeeded by||Alan Duncan|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport|
6 May 2005 – 8 December 2005
|Preceded by||John Whittingdale|
|Succeeded by||Hugo Swire|
|Shadow Secretary of State for the Family|
15 June 2004 – 8 December 2005
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Environment and Transport|
6 November 2003 – 14 June 2004
|Preceded by||David Lidington (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Tim Collins (Transport)
|Succeeded by||Tim Yeo|
|Chairman of the Conservative Party|
23 July 2002 – 6 November 2003
|Leader||Iain Duncan Smith|
|Preceded by||David Davis|
|Succeeded by||Liam Fox
The Lord Saatchi
|Shadow Secretary of State for Transport|
6 June 2002 – 23 July 2002
|Leader||Iain Duncan Smith|
|Preceded by||Herself (Transport, Local Government and the Regions)|
|Succeeded by||Tim Collins|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions|
18 September 2001 – 6 June 2002
|Leader||Iain Duncan Smith|
|Preceded by||Archie Norman (Environment, Transport and the Regions)|
|Succeeded by||Herself (Transport)
Eric Pickles (Local Government and the Regions)
|Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Employment|
15 June 1999 – 18 September 2001
|Preceded by||David Willetts|
|Succeeded by||Damian Green (Education and Skills)
David Willetts (Work and Pensions)
|Member of Parliament
1 May 1997
|Preceded by||Constituency established|
|Born||Theresa Mary Brasier
1 October 1956
Eastbourne, Sussex, England
|Alma mater||St Hugh's College, Oxford|
May was first elected to Parliament in 1997 as the 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 William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard and David Cameron, including Shadow Leader of the House of Commons and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.
- 1 Early life, education and career
- 2 Member of Parliament
- 3 Home Secretary
- 4 Minister for Women and Equality
- 5 Controversies
- 6 Personal life and public image
- 7 Activism and awards
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life, education and career
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, 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, Oxfordshire. In 1971, the school was abolished and became the site of the new Wheatley Park Comprehensive School during her time as a pupil. May then went 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 Conservative MP for Maidenhead.
Member of Parliament
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). She 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 kept her 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 explaining why, in her view, her Party must change, she 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 Opposition Leader in November that year. In June 2004 she was moved to become Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. 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 MP for Maidenhead with an increased majority of 16,769 – 60 per cent of the vote. This followed an earlier failed attempt to unseat her in 2005 as one of the Liberal Democrats' leading "decapitation-strategy" targets.
On 12 May 2010 Theresa May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality by Prime Minister David Cameron as part of his first Cabinet, becoming the fourth woman to hold one of the British Great Offices of State, after (in order of seniority) Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister), Margaret Beckett (Foreign Secretary) and Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary). As Home Secretary, May is also a member of the National Security Council. She is the longest-serving Home Secretary for over 100 years, since Henry Matthews who served from 1886 to 1892.
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 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. She also suspended the registration scheme for carers of children and vulnerable people. On 4 August 2010 it was 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. 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.
On 2 June 2010, May faced her first major national security incident as Home Secretary with the Cumbria shootings. May delivered her first major speech in the House of Commons as Home Secretary in a statement on this incident, later visiting the victims with the Prime Minister. Also in June 2010, May banned the Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik from entering the United Kingdom, resulting in two Home Office officials who disagreed with the Government's policy of excluding Zakir Naik from Britain being suspended from work. In late June 2010, May announced plans for a temporary cap on UK visas for non-EU migrants. The move raised concerns about the impact on the UK economy. 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. In July 2010, it was reported that May had corresponded with Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of the missing child Madeleine McCann. In August 2010, May attended a private meeting with Mr and Mrs McCann to discuss their case.
In July 2010, May presented the House of Commons with 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. 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. 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.
In August 2010, May banned the English Defence League from holding a march in Bradford, West Yorkshire, on 28 August. The EDL protested against the ban, claiming they planned a "peaceful demonstration". Around 2 pm on the day of the ban, violent disturbances in Bradford between EDL members and their opponents were reported, calling for intervention by riot police.
In early September 2010, allegations resurfaced regarding the phone-tapping scandal in connection with which tabloid newspaper journalists had been jailed in 2009 for intercepting the mobile phone messages of major public figures. The case involved a journalist employed by former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who had later become 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. On 5 September, May told the BBC that there were "no grounds for a public enquiry". The Metropolitan Police said it might consider re-examining evidence on the allegations. On 6 September 2010, May faced parliamentary questions over the allegations following an intervention by Speaker Bercow.
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.
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." 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." She returned to the UK from holiday to meet 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."
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 the reason for the tribunal's decision in that case, and stating 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. Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke subsequently called May's comments "laughable and childlike." 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."
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". The pair had been invited to attend an English Defence League march at Woolwich, where Drummer Lee Rigby had been killed earlier that year. The pressure group Hope not Hate led a campaign to exclude the pair, whom the Home Office described as "inflammatory speakers who promote hate".
May supported the detention of David Miranda, partner of Wikileaks journalist Glenn Greenwald under the Terrorism Act 2000, saying that critics of the Metropolitan Police action needed to "think about what they are condoning". Lib Dem peer and former Director of Public Prosecutions Ken MacDonald accused May of an "ugly and unhelpful" attempt to implicate those who were concerned about the police action of "condoning terrorism". The High Court subsequently acknowledged there were "indirect implications for press freedom" but ruled the detention legal
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.
On 26 July 2010, May announced a package of reforms to policing in England and Wales in the House of Commons. 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.
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 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.
Banning of khat
In July 2013, May decided to ban the stimulant khat, against the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). The council reached the conclusion that there was "insufficient evidence" it caused health problems, while May argued that the 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".
Explaining the change in the classification May said: "The decision to bring khat under control is finely balanced and takes into account the expert scientific advice and these broader concerns", and pointed out that the product had already been banned in the whole of northern Europe, most recently the Netherlands, the majority of other EU member states, as well as most of the G8 countries including Canada and the US. A report on khat use by the ACMD published in January 2013 had noted the product had been associated with "acute psychotic episodes", "chronic liver disease" and family breakdown. However, it concluded that there is no risk of harm for most users, and recommended that Khat remain uncontrolled due to lack of evidence for these associations. 
Home Office report
Liberal Democrat minister Norman Baker accused May of suppressing proposals to treat rather than prosecute minor drug offenders from a report into drug policy commissioned by the Home Office. The Home Office denied that its officials had considered this as part of their strategy, Baker cited difficulties working with May as the reason for his resignation from the Home Office in the run up to the 2015 General Election 
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. Former Labour Home Secretaries David Blunkett (who introduced ASBOs) and Alan Johnson expressed their disapproval of the proposals.
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. The new rules came into effect from 9 July 2012 allowing only those British citizens earning more than £18,600 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. The rules were introduced by the 'back door' without a proper debate and were criticised later as being arbitrary, dividing families, disrupting integration by a variety of different civil society groups. An MP, who was concerned about 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. Liberty concluded that the new rules showed scant regard to the impact they would have on genuine families. 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.
Immigration Act 2014
May introduced to the House of Commons her Immigration Bill in October 2013. It was passed on 14 May 2014, whereupon it became the Immigration Act 2014. This was later deemed to be a "landmark" by James Brokenshire MP, her subordinate Minister of State, in an article in which the number of ex-EU immigrants for the year to September 2014 was revealed to have increased from 243,000 to 292,000.
In June 2012, May was found in contempt of court by Judge Barry Cotter QC, and stood accused of "totally unacceptable and regrettable behaviour", being said to have shown complete disregard of 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.
May responded to a Supreme Court decision in November 2013 to overturn her predecessor Jacqui Smith's revocation of Iraqi-born terror suspect Al Jedda's British citizenship by ordering it to be revoked for a second time, making him the first person to be stripped twice of British citizenship
May was also accused by Lord Roberts of being willing to allow someone to die "to score a political point" over the deportation of mentally ill Nigerian man Isa Muazu. According to Muazu's solicitor, May had arranged for the asylum seeker, who was said to be "near death" after a 100-day hunger strike, to be deported by a chartered private jet.  In order to strengthen the Home Office's tough stance an "end of life' plan was reportedly offered to the Muazu, who was one of a number of hunger strikers at the Hardmondsworth immigration removal centre.
European migrant crisis
May rejected the European Union's proposal of compulsory refugee quotas. She said that it was important to help people living in war-zone regions and refugee camps but "not the ones who are strong and rich enough to come to Europe".
Minister for Women and Equality
May's appointment as Minister for Women and Equality was initially criticised by some members of the LGBT/gay rights movement, since she had voted against lowering the age of consent (in 1998) and against greater adoption rights for homosexuals (in 2002), though she had voted in favour of civil partnerships. May later stated, during an appearance on the BBC's Question Time, that she had "changed her mind" on gay adoption. 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".
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 it. The Equality Act came into effect in England, Wales and Scotland on 1 October 2010. She did however announce that a clause she dubbed "Harman's Law" which would have required public bodies to consider how they can reduce socio-economic inequalities when making decisions about spending and services would be scrapped on the grounds that it was "unworkable".
May was succeeded as Minister for Women and Equalities by Maria Miller in September 2012, but retained her role as Home Secretary
UK/US extradition cases
May received sharp criticism for allowing the extradition of Richard O'Dwyer, a student and founder of the TVShack streaming site. In a YouGov survey 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 – 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 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.
Birmingham schools row
In June 2014, an inflamed public argument arose between Home Office and Education Ministers about responsibility for alleged extremism in Birmingham schools. 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, 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.
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. David Cameron suggested that this had come about due to the Passport Office's receiving an "above normal" 300,000-rise in applications. 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. Well over £600,000 were paid to staff who helped clear the backlog.
Decision not to prosecute Lord Janner
On 18 April 2015, May told the BBC she was "very concerned" about the decision not to prosecute the Labour politician Lord Janner over allegations of historical child sex abuse. Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said in a statement that although there was enough evidence to bring charges against Janner, he was unfit to stand trial.
Banning of Tyler, The Creator from entering the UK
In August 2015, rapper Tyler, The Creator was banned by May from entering the UK in the week prior to scheduled appearances at the 2015 Reading and Leeds Festivals. May specifically cited lyrics from the album Bastard, released in 2009, as the reason for the ban - this despite the fact that Tyler, The Creator had performed without issue at the Reading and Leeds festivals in 2011, 2012, 2013 and at numerous other UK festivals such as Glastonbury in the time period since the album's release.
Personal life and public image
She married Philip John May on 6 September 1980; the couple have no children. Outside politics, May lists her interests as walking and cooking. Journalists have drawn parallels between May's shift to designer apparel and her political rise in fortunes since her parliamentary debut.
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. Commenting on May's debut as Home Secretary, Anne Perkins of The Guardian observed that "she'll be nobody's stooge", while Cristina Odone of The Daily Telegraph predicted her to be "the rising star" of the Coalition Government. Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail later complimented May's Home Secretary performances as "unflappable" and Allegra Stratton, then with The Guardian, praised May as showing managerial acumen. 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. However, she later revealed that she had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Her parliamentary expenses have been "modest" (about £15,000 between 2005 - 2009) in recent years.
Activism and awards
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.
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The Home Secretary declared that she was a 'regular communicant' in the Church of England
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