Theresa Mary May (née Brasier, born 1 October 1956) is a British Conservative politician who is currently Home Secretary in the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition government. She was elected to Parliament in 1997 as the Member of Parliament for Maidenhead, and served as the Chairman of the Conservative Party, 2003–04. Appointed to the Privy Council in 2003, she became Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Shadow Minister for Women before being appointed Home Secretary and the Minister for Women and Equality in David Cameron's Cabinet on 11 May 2010. Theresa May is 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).
Early lifeMay 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. 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, an 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 went up to the University of Oxford where she read Geography at St Hugh's College, taking 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 ParliamentHaving 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 stated that the Conservatives were currently perceived as the "nasty party". In 2003, she was sworn of the Privy Council. After Michael Howard became Conservative leader that year, he made May Shadow Secretary of State for Transport 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 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, Theresa 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's debut as Home Secretary involved overturning several of the previous Labour government's measures on data collection and surveillance in England and Wales. She proposed the abolition of the previous Labour government's National Identity Card and database scheme under the Identity Documents Bill 2010 and reform on 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 Climbie 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 have disagreed with May's exclusion of Zakir Naik from Britain have been 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, now 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 Sunday 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 March 2011 police officers must accept cuts to their pay packets to avoid losing thousands of frontline jobs, Home Secretary Theresa May said today. Mrs May said she did not want to make savings for the sake of it, but extraordinary circumstances mean the Government must reform terms and conditions to keep officers on the streets. Her speech comes ahead of an independent review of police pay and conditions by former rail regulator Tom Winsor, which will be published on Tuesday. Mrs May called for all forces to follow the example of the Metropolitan Police in getting officers to patrol alone rather than in pairs. "By getting more officers to patrol alone - rather than in pairs - and by better matching resources to demand in neighbourhood policing, they are increasing officer availability to the public by 25 per cent," she said.
Police reformsOn 26 July 2010, May announced a package of radical reforms to policing in England and Wales in a speech to the House of Commons. Police Authorities are set to be abolished in favour of elected Police and Crime Commissioners. The previous government's central crime agency, Soca (Serious Organised Crime Agency) will 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 have been 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.
Minister for Women and EqualityMay'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.
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.
Personal life and public imageTheresa married Philip John May on 6 September 1980. 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 press 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'.
May's wealth is estimated at £1.6 million. Her parliamentary expenses have been 'modest' in recent years.