|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 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 Transport|
6 November 2003 – 6 December 2005
|Preceded by||Tim Collins|
|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
|Member of Parliament
1 May 1997
|Preceded by||Constituency created|
|Born||Theresa Mary Brasier
1 October 1956
Eastbourne, Sussex, England
|Alma mater||St Hugh's College, Oxford|
Theresa Mary May (née Brasier; born 1 October 1956) is a British Conservative politician who is the current Home Secretary. She 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 in 2002 and was sworn of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council.
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. After Cameron became Prime Minister in May 2010, May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities; giving up the latter role in 2012 to Maria Miller, the 2012–2014 Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
- 1 Early life, education and career
- 2 Member of Parliament
- 3 Home Secretary
- 4 Minister for Women and Equality
- 5 Controversies
- 5.1 UK/US extradition cases
- 5.2 Banning of khat
- 5.3 Comments on detention of David Miranda
- 5.4 'End of life plan' for mentally ill asylum seeker
- 5.5 Contempt of court
- 5.6 Ugandan lesbian dies after being deported from the UK
- 5.7 Banning of Zakir Naik from entering the UK
- 5.8 Removal of passport of an Iraqi-born man, on the 2nd occasion
- 5.9 Deportation of Israeli Palestinian cleric on arrival to the UK
- 5.10 False deportation cat claims
- 5.11 Birmingham schools row
- 5.12 Passport backlog
- 6 Personal life and public image
- 7 Activism and awards
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life, education and career
May was born 1 October 1956, in Eastbourne, Sussex. She is the daughter of Rev. Hubert Brasier, a Church of England clergyman, and Mrs Zaidee Brasier (born Zaidee M. Barnes). Her education was completed at a combination of state primary, independent convent and state secondary schools. 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 gained 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. May then attended the University of Oxford where she read Geography at St Hugh's College, graduating with a BA (Hons) in 1977.
From 1977 to 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 was a councillor in 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 (and lost) in the safe Labour seat of North West Durham and then unsuccessfully contested the 1994 Barking by-election. In the 1997 general election May was elected the Conservative MP for Maidenhead which extends as far west as the village of Sonning on the east side of Reading where she lives.
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). 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 making a point about why her party must change, May controversially[by whom?] stated that the Conservatives were currently perceived as the "Nasty Party". In 2003, she was sworn of the Privy Council. On the election of Michael Howard as Conservative leader, he made May Shadow Secretary of State for Transport in November that year 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 targets of the Liberal Democrats' "decapitation" strategy.
On 12 May 2010, May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron as part of his first cabinet. May becoming the fourth woman to hold one of the Great Offices of State, after (in order of seniority) Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister), Margaret Beckett (Foreign Secretary) and Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary). 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, 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. The same newspaper reported that this was followed on 6 August 2010 by the closure of the former Labour 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 made her first major speech as Home Secretary in a statement on the incident to the House of Commons, later visiting the victims with Prime Minister, David Cameron. Also in June 2010, May banned the Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik from entering the United Kingdom. As a result two Home Office officials who disagreed with May's exclusion of Zakir Naik from Britain were 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 on the curb's 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 which are likely to mean 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 the case.
In July 2010, May presented the House of Commons with her detailed proposals for a fundamental review of the previous Labour Party 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. The repeals were condemned by the Opposition Labour Shadow Home Secretary Alan Johnson. 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 marches in Bradford, West Yorkshire planned for Saturday 28 August. The EDL protested the ban claiming they planned a 'peaceful demonstration'. 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.
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 on the matter. On 5 September, May told the BBC that there were "no grounds for a public enquiry" on the case. However Scotland Yard (Metropolitan Police Service) has said it will consider re-examining evidence on the allegations. On Monday 6 September 2010, May faced parliamentary questions on the allegations following an intervention by the Speaker of the House of Commons.
On 9 December 2010 in the wake of violent student demonstrations against increases to Higher Education tuition fees held in central London, 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 demonstrations.
In December 2010, May had said that the deployment of water cannon by police forces on the British Mainland 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 with senior police officials on 8 August.
In the aftermath of the riots May revealed that she wanted as many of the young criminals identifying as possible. 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 it 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 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 deemed 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 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. The Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, subsequently called May's comments "laughable and childlike.".
In June 2012, May was found to be 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.
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 in Woolwich, where Drummer Lee Rigby was killed earlier that year. The pressure group Hope not Hate had led a campaign to exclude the pair, who the Home Office described as "inflammatory speakers who promote hate".
On 26 July 2010, May announced a package of reforms to policing in England and Wales in a speech to the House of Commons. Police Authorities were set to be abolished in favour of elected Police and Crime Commissioners. The previous government's central crime agency, Soca (Serious Organised Crime Agency) would be replaced by a new National Crime Agency. In common with the Conservative Party's 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' in 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.
On 28 July 2010, May proposed to review the previous Labour Party 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.
Restricting family migration
On 11 June 2012, May, as Home Secretary, announced to Parliament that new restrictions would be introduced, which are intended to reduce the number of non-European Economic Area family migrants. Most of the changes are intended to apply to new applicants from 9 July 2012. The new rules came into effect from 9 July 2012 and allow only those British citizens earning more than £18,600 to bring their spouses to share their lives 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 dependants 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. When a concerned MP asked May in parliament whether she had examined the impact on communities and families on modest incomes, 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 parent and exiling British citizens from the UK.
Minister for Women and Equality
May's appointment to the role was initially criticised by some members of the LGBT/gay rights movement, as she had voted against lowering the age of consent (in 1998) and against greater adoption rights for homosexuals (in 2002), voting 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 a need for 'cultural change' in British society. May publicly gave her support for same-sex marriage in a video for campaign group Out4Marriage in May 2012.
On 2 July 2010, May stated she would be supporting the previous Labour government's anti-discrimination laws enshrined in the Equality Act 2010 though she had previously opposed this legislation. The Equality Act came into effect in England, Wales and Scotland on 1 October 2010.
On 17 November 2010, May announced the "socio-economic duty" legislation (also known as "Harman's Law") was to be scrapped. The law would have required public bodies to consider how they can reduce socio-economic inequalities when making decisions about spending and services; the legislation was part of the Equality Act which did not come into force in October and was put up for review.
UK/US extradition cases
May has come under sharp criticism for allowing extradition of Richard O'Dwyer, a student who founded TVShack streaming site. In a YouGov survey over 70% of individuals 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 a medical diagnosis of Asperger syndrome and associative risks, similar to a diagnosis given to Ahsan. This has led to accusations from mainstream UK media, Human Rights NGOs as well as religious groups of a racist double standard within the Home Secretary's application of the law.
Banning of khat
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, while May argued that the mere possibility of the existence of evidence was a 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".
The decision sparked anger in the Somali, Ethiopian and Yemen communities in Britain, 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."
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 behavior 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".
Comments on detention of David Miranda
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 who is opposed to using controversial anti-terrorism laws against journalists condoned 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".
'End of life plan' for mentally ill asylum seeker
Under her leadership 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 hard-line position of the Home Office it opted to issue an 'end of life' plan to the individual.
Contempt of court
In June 2012, May was found to be 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.
Ugandan lesbian dies after being deported from the UK
Under her leadership the Home Office deported a Ugandan lesbian, Jackie Nanyonjo. 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 through the flight and forced her head down between her legs, and tried 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 many 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.
Banning of Zakir Naik from entering the UK
In June 2010, May banned the Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik from entering the United Kingdom. As a result two Home Office officials who disagreed with May's exclusion of Zakir Naik from Britain were suspended from work.
Removal of passport of an Iraqi-born man, on the 2nd occasion
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 removing Al Jedda's passport was illegal. He had come to the UK as an asylum seeker in 1992; he originally lost his British passport in 2007 after three years in military detention in Iraq. Al Jedda is the first person to have his citizenship removed twice.
Deportation of Israeli Palestinian cleric on arrival to the UK
In June 2011 Raed Salah entered the United Kingdom but it was then found that he had been banned a few hours previously. He was arrested but his ban was overturned by an immigration court.
False deportation cat claims
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 senior judges, 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 "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."
Birmingham schools row
In June 2014, there was a highly public argument between the Home Office and Department for Education ministers about the responsibility for alleged extremism in Birmingham schools. The Prime Minister David Cameron's intervened to resolve the row, requiring May to sack her special advisor Fiona Cunningham because she had published on May's website a confidential letter to May's colleagues, and Secretary for Education Michael Gove to apologise to Home Office Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism head Charles Farr for briefings critical of him appearing on the front page of The Times.
In mid-2014, a large backlog developed in processing passport applications. David Cameron claimed that this was because the Passport Office had been hit by 300,000 applications "above normal". Theresa May, however, had been warned a year prior, in July 2013, that a surge of 350,000 extra applications would occur because of the closure of processing overseas as part of George Osborne's programme of cuts.
Personal life and public image
She married Philip John May on 6 September 1980 and has no children. Outside politics, May states her interests as walking and cooking. May's fashion choices and well-publicised fondness for designer shoes often draw comment in the media. Journalists have drawn parallels between May's shift to designer apparel and her political rise in fortunes since her debut as an MP.
Since coming to prominence in front-bench politics, May's public image has also tended to polarise media opinion, especially from 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 judged her to be "the rising star" of the coalition government. Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail later described May's performance in the role of Home Secretary as "unflappable" and Allegra Stratton, then with The Guardian, described May as showing managerial acumen. In February 2013, Keith Vaz MP was reported to have commented on May's significant weight loss, calling her "thin" compared to her previous plumper appearance. May had become visibly slimmer since early 2013 which she attributed to dieting and exercise. However, she was later diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
May and her husband own two houses whose value has been estimated at £1.6 million. Her parliamentary expenses have been "modest" (only just over £15,000 for the past four years) in recent years.
Activism and awards
Prior to her promotion to Government, May has actively supported 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.
She has also received the Freedom of the City of London, and subsequently was pleased to join the Livery of the Worshipful Company of Marketors, which is a "livery company for senior people in the marketing profession".
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Theresa May.|
- Theresa May MP official constituency website
- The Home Office
- Profile at the Conservative Party
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Electoral history and profile at The Guardian
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
- Articles authored at Journalisted
- Allegra Stratton's profile of Theresa May Ethos Journal Profile
- Audio clips
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