Theresa May: her life in politics

Theresa May is hoping to be re-elected as Prime Minister in Thursday’s general election. Nicole Hogger offers a brief bio of the Tory leader...

Early life and education

Theresa Brasier was born on 1 October 1956 in Eastbourne, Sussex. The daughter of an Anglican Priest, she attended a state school, followed by a short stint at an Independent Catholic school.

At the age of 13, she won a place at a local grammar school. Her education then took her to read Geography at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, where she graduated with second class honours in 1977.

While at a Conservative Party student disco during her university days, the future Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, introduced Theresa to Philip May. The two bonded over their mutual love of cricket and were married in 1980.

Sowing the seeds of a political career. 

Upon leaving university, the future PM held posts at the Bank of England and the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS). Mrs May then had a change of direction, and began working for her local Conservative association – stuffing envelopes!

Helping out at the office certainly helped, as she shortly became a councillor in the London Borough of Merton. She held this post from 1986 – 1994.

After a few failed attempts at standing for Parliament, Mrs May finally secured her place in the commons in 1997, as the Conservative candidate for Maidenhead. She was elected with an astonishing 49.8% share of the vote.

The public figure

Mrs May has held a number of positions in the Tory party’s hierarchy, serving successive leaders in the late 1990s and 2000s. She was a member of the Shadow Cabinet from 1999 – 2010, and was the first ever female chairman of the Conservative party.

When the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government formed after the 2010 general election, Mrs May was appointed Home Secretary under Prime Minister David Cameron. Reappointed following the Conservative’s outright victory in 2015, she became the longest-serving Home Secretary in more than a century. 

After David Cameron’s unsuccessful Brexit Remain campaign and subsequent resignation, Theresa May became the second female Prime Minister of the UK in July 2016. The first was another Conservative, to whom Mrs May would soon be compared: Margaret Thatcher.  

Personal life

Mrs May’s husband Philip is an Investment Banker who works for the Capital Group. The couple are enthusiastic hikers who frequently holiday in the Swiss Alps or Welsh mountains. Indeed, it was during a walking holiday in Wales that Mrs May decided to call the snap election for 8 June, 2017.

Mrs May is also renowned for her love of fashion, and has an extensive shoe collection that has achieved some infamy. On Radio 4’s Desert Island discs, she revealed that her luxury item would be a subscription to the magazine Vogue.


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Posted on Tuesday Jun 6