Britain’s new PM promises ‘bold new role’ outside EU LONDON: Britain’s tough former interior minister Theresa May became prime minister on Wednesday, promising to champion social justice and rise to the challenge of leading the country out of the European Union.
May, 59, assumed office after an audience with Queen Elizabeth and drove straight to her new home of 10 Downing Street, vacated hours earlier by David Cameron, whose resignation brought her to power.
He had announced his decision to quit last month after Britons rejected his entreaties to stay in the EU with a decision to get out that severely undermines European efforts to forge greater unity and creates economic uncertainty across the bloc.
“My advice to my successor, who is a brilliant negotiator, is that we should try to be as close to the European Union as we can be for the benefits of trade, cooperation and of security,” Cameron told parliament in his last appearance before resigning.
In remarks after her audience with the queen, May said: “We will rise to the challenge. As we leave the European Union we will forge a bold new positive role for ourselves in the world, and we will make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few, but for every one of us.”
An official photograph showed Theresa May curtseying to a smiling Queen Elizabeth, for whom she is the 13th prime minister in a line that started with Winston Churchill.
She is also Britain’s second female head of government after Margaret Thatcher.
The new prime minister signalled her intent to start tackling serious matters like Brexit, the country’s role in Europe post-Brexit and economy by filling top cabinet posts on day one. She appointed David Davis, a senior Conservative lawmaker who was beaten by former prime minister David Cameron in the party’s 2005 leadership election contest, to the newly-created role of Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.
Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London who led the campaign for leaving the EU, was named foreign secretary while Philip Hammond, the current holder of the job, was appointed treasury secretary, the top cabinet job after premiership.
Theresa May must now try to limit the damage to British trade and investment as she renegotiates the country’s ties with its 27 EU partners. She will also attempt to unite her divided Conservative party and a fractured nation in which many, on the evidence of the vote, feel angry with the political elite and left behind by the forces of globalisation.
In comments addressed to ordinary Britons, she spoke of the “burning injustice” suffered by large sections of society: poor people facing shorter life expectancy; blacks treated more harshly by the criminal justice system; women earning less than men; the mentally ill; and young people struggling to buy homes.