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In her first speech as UK prime minister, Theresa May made it clear she won’t backtrack on Brexit

Theresa May outside her new home.
Reuters/Stefan Wermuth
Theresa May outside her new home.
  • Cassie Werber
By Cassie Werber


Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Following a vote to leave the European Union and the subsequent shattering of the UK’s political order, Theresa May is coming in to try and pick up the pieces. In her short maiden speech after taking office today (July 13), the new UK prime minister referred to the future exit, leaving little room for backtracking on the majority decision.

“We are living through an important moment in our country’s history,” she said.

“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.”

Many see the decision to exit the European Union as driven by national anger against politicians in general, as much as against the EU specifically. Speaking outside her new home at Number 10 Downing Street, May—who earlier in her career had criticized the Conservative camp for blithely ignoring its image as the “nasty party”—promised that her new Conservative administration would put the needs of people who are “just managing” ahead of the privileged elite.

“If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realize. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have your own home but you worry about paying the mortgage. You can just about manage, but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school. If you’re one of those families, if you’re just managing, I want to address you directly.

I know you’re working around the clock. I know you’re doing your best and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle. The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives.”

May also emphasized the importance of unity between the countries of the United Kingdom—Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland—which she called a “precious, precious bond.”

May, who only knew she was getting the job on Monday, hasn’t yet announced her cabinet.

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