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Theresa May: What you need to know about the UK's new prime minister

May will be only the second woman in the history of the United Kingdom to assume the prime minister's office, and has been called a “bloody difficult woman" by at least one of her fellow conservative lawmakers.

by VICE News
Jul 12 2016, 4:45pm

Foto di Peter Nicholls/Reuters

When David Cameron resigns from the position of prime minister, as he's said he'll do on Wednesday, his fellow conservative Theresa May will replace him.

The 59-year-old May is an experienced, tough politician who has drawn comparisons to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and who has served as the UK's home secretary since 2010 in Cameron's cabinet, a role that put her in charge of the country's national police force, domestic intelligence, immigration, and border security.

Although May campaigned against the UK exiting the European Union, she has vowed to uphold the voters' wishes and promised to create a new government department responsible for conducting the UK's negotiations to withdraw from the EU, to be headed by a "member of parliament who campaigned for Britain to leave the EU."

"Nobody should fool themselves this process will be brief or straightforward," May said on June 30 when she launched her candidacy to be prime minister. "Regardless of the time it takes to negotiate an initial deal, it is going to take a period lasting several years to disentangle our laws, rules and processes from the Brussels machinery."

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Last week, veteran conservative politician Ken Clarke said May didn't have the same illusions as the "mindless, tiny band of lunatics who think we can have a glorious economic future outside the European Union."

He followed that up by telling a fellow lawmaker that May is a "bloody difficult woman," but "you and I worked for Margaret Thatcher."

May will be the second woman to hold the prime minister's position in the history of the UK after Thatcher, who served as prime minister and head of the country's conservative party from 1979 to 1990. Thatcher was known as the "Iron Lady" due to her hard-nosed, no-nonsense approach to politics.

Like Thatcher, May was educated at Oxford University, where she majored in geography, and worked in banking before she won her first election to a council seat in the London borough of Merton.

Although she was born in the southern coastal resort town of Eastbourne, May was elected to Parliament in 1997 from Maidenhead, a town of 90,000 about 30 miles west of London.

At a press conference at the prime minister's residence in London on Monday, May said she was humbled by the conservative party's vote for her to lead the party and assume the prime ministership.

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"A vision of a country that works not for the privileged few but that works for every one of us because we're going to give people more control over their lives and that's how, together, we will build a better Britain," she said.

She added: "Brexit means Brexit and we're going to make a success of it."

David Cameron is expected to go to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, where he will present his resignation to the Queen. May will then travel to the palace in order to receive the Queen's invitation to form a government.

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