Theresa May

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We need a bold, new, positive vision for the future of our country – a vision of a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us.

Theresa Mary May (born 1 October 1956) is a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party who was in office from 2016 to 2019. Identifying as a One-Nation Conservative and characterised as a liberal conservative, she was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Maidenhead from the 1997 to the 2024 general elections. May succeeded David Cameron as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on 13 July 2016 after his formal resignation to the Queen, becoming the second female prime minister, following Margaret Thatcher (1979–1990). She became a member of the House of Lords in the Dissolution Honours announced on 4 July 2024.




  • On the morning when I moved into my new office, when the telephone rang for the first time I eagerly picked up the receiver to find out who the caller could be, only to discover that the person on the other end of the line wanted to speak to Edwina Currie.
  • This is the first time that Maidenhead has had its own Member of Parliament. In view of the potential origin of the town's name in the symbol of the maiden's head, it is perhaps appropriate that it should now be represented by a maiden—although I must confess to using the term somewhat loosely.
  • I hope that we all agree that the aim is to provide the right education for every child. For some children, that will be an education that is firmly based in learning practical and vocational skills. For others, it will be an education based on academic excellence.


  • Politics is about public service. Everything we do - in parliament, in our constituencies, here in Bournemouth - should be motivated by one goal. Improving the lives of our fellow citizens.
  • Politicians are seen as untrustworthy and hypocritical. We talk a different language. We live in a different world. We seem to be scoring points, playing games and seeking personal advantage - while home-owners struggle to make ends meet and schoolchildren see years of hard work undermined by the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen.
  • In recent years a number of politicians have behaved disgracefully and then compounded their offences by trying to evade responsibility. We all know who they are. Let's face it, some of them have stood on this platform.
  • More people vote for a TV show than a political party. And those who do vote think a man dressed as a monkey is more likely to deliver on his election pledges than any party.
  • One of the things that people hate most about modern politics is the almost mindless partisanship that passes for debate. Ya-boo, Punch and Judy, call it what you will, the public is sick of it.
  • They [the then Labour government] planned to let bureaucrats snoop on peoples' phone and email conversations. We helped to stop that.
  • The Labour party is intent on turning law-abiding and decent citizens into criminals by banning hunting - and we marched to stop that.
  • George Bush and Tony Blair deserve the gratitude of everyone for standing up to the forces of evil. And they deserve our thanks as well for the action they are taking to disarm Saddam Hussein.
  • How can students and parents plan for the future when they can't rely on the country's examination system to deliver fair results? We reject Labour's "government knows best" approach, but we certainly don't subscribe to a philosophy that lets people sink or swim. We believe that an active government should focus on doing what it can to help people get on with their lives. This is the true measure of a compassionate government.
  • Some Tories have tried to make political capital by demonising minorities instead of showing confidence in all the citizens of our country.
  • There's a lot we need to do in this party of ours. Our base is too narrow and so, occasionally, are our sympathies. You know what some people call us - the nasty party.
  • I want us to be the party that represents the whole of Britain and not merely some mythical place called "Middle England", but the truth is that as our country has become more diverse, our party has remained the same. We should not underestimate the extent of this problem. Ask yourselves: how can we truly claim to be the party of Britain, when we don't truly represent Britain in our party?




  • The Prevent strategy will be targeted against those forms of terrorism which pose the greatest risk to our national security, currently al-Qaeda and those they inspire. But Prevent must also recognise and tackle the insidious impact of non-violent extremism, which can create an atmosphere conducive to terrorism and can popularise views which terrorists exploit.


  • In a stand-off between Britain and the EU, 44% of our exports is more important to us than 8% of the EU's exports is to them.
  • The reality is that we do not know on what terms we would have access to the single market. We do know that in a negotiation we would need to make concessions in order to access it, and those concessions could well be about accepting EU regulations, over which we would have no say, making financial contributions, just as we do now, accepting free movement rules, just as we do now, or quite possibly all three combined.
  • It is not clear why other EU member states would give Britain a better deal than they themselves enjoy.
  • I believe it is clearly in our national interest to remain a member of the European Union.
  • We need a bold, new, positive vision for the future of our country – a vision of a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us.
  • The country needs strong leadership and a clear sense of direction, to give confidence to investors, to keep the economy moving, and to keep people in work.
  • Brexit means Brexit. The campaign was fought, the vote was held, turnout was high, and the public gave their verdict. There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door, and no second referendum. The country voted to leave the European Union, and it is the duty of the Government and of Parliament to make sure we do just that.
  • There should be no general election until 2020. There should be a normal Autumn Statement, held in the normal way at the normal time, and no emergency Budget.
  • I will... create a new government department responsible for conducting Britain’s negotiation with the EU and for supporting the rest of Whitehall in its European work. That department will be led by a senior Secretary of State – and I will make sure that the position is taken by a Member of Parliament who campaigned for Britain to leave the EU.
  • It will not be possible to do what is right for Britain, to get the best deal we can for our country, unless we are united as a Party and as a Government. That is why I believe so strongly that there needs to be a proper contest with a leader elected by the whole Party with a proper mandate – and no coronation brought about by back-room deals.
  • The country has spoken, and the United Kingdom will leave the EU. The job now is about uniting the Party, uniting the country – securing the Union – and negotiating the best possible deal for Britain.
  • If you’re born poor, you will die on average nine years earlier than others. If you’re black, you’re treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white. If you’re a white, working-class boy, you’re less likely than anybody else to go to university. If you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately. If you’re a woman, you still earn less than a man. If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s too often not enough help to hand. If you’re young, you’ll find it harder than ever before to own your own home. These are all burning injustices, and – as I did with the misuse of stop and search and deaths in police custody and modern slavery – I am determined to fight against them.
  • Some need to be told that what the Government does isn’t a game, it’s a serious business that has real consequences for people’s lives.
  • We, the Conservatives, will put ourselves at the service of ordinary, working people and we will strive to make Britain a country that works for everyone – regardless of who they are and regardless of where they’re from.
  • You can judge me by my record.
  • We have a mission to make Britain a country that works not for the privileged and not for the few but for every one of our citizens.

As prime minister=

  • I'm very clear also that the British people don't want the issue of Article 50 being triggered just being kicked into the long grass because they want to know we're getting on with the job of putting Brexit into place and making a success of it.
  • People talk about the sort of Brexit that there is going to be. Is it hard or soft? Is it grey or white? Actually we want a red, white and blue Brexit; that is the right Brexit for the UK, the right deal for the UK. I believe that a deal that is right for the UK will also be a deal that is right for the EU.


  • But the message is clear to all - this House has spoken and now is not the time to obstruct the democratically expressed wishes of the British people. It is time to get on with leaving the European Union and building an independent, self-governing, global Britain.
  • Being a member of the single market means accepting free movement, it means accepting the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice - that is exactly what people voted against when they voted for the UK to leave the European Union. What we need to do is ensure that we get the right trade deal so that farmers can continue to export their produce to the European Union but also so we can open up avenues to trade around the rest of the world for farmers as well.
  • As we see the threat changing, evolving becoming a more complex threat, we need to make sure that our police and security and intelligence agencies have the powers they need. I mean longer prison sentences for people convicted of terrorist offences. I mean making it easier for the authorities to deport foreign terrorist suspects back to their own countries. And I mean doing more to restrict the freedom and the movements of terrorist suspects when we have enough evidence to know they are a threat, but not enough evidence to prosecute them in full in court. And if our human rights laws stop us from doing it, we will change the laws so we can do it.
  • Let no-one doubt our determination or question our resolve, Brexit is happening. It will be there in black and white on the front page of this historic piece of legislation: the United Kingdom will be leaving the EU on March 29, 2019 at 11pm GMT.
  • [In relation to the Conservatives' policy on social care costs] Nothing has changed.
    • During the 2017 general election campaign, BBC News
Speech after the London Bridge attack (4 June 2017)
Speech made on Downing Street after the June 2017 London Bridge attack (June 4, 2017). Transcript online
  • Terrorism breeds terrorism.
  • While the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division and promotes sectarianism. It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth. Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time, but it cannot be defeated by military intervention alone. It will not be defeated by the maintenance of a permanent defensive counter-terrorism operation, however skillful its leaders and practitioners. It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence and make them understand that our values – pluralistic British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.
  • We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide. We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning. And we need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.
  • While we need to deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online, we must not forget about the safe spaces that continue to exist in the real world. Yes, that means taking military action to destroy Isis in Iraq and Syria. But it also means taking action here at home. While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country. So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out across the public sector and across society. That will require some difficult, and often embarrassing, conversations. But the whole of our country needs to come together to take on this extremism, and we need to live our lives not in a series of separated, segregated communities, but as one truly United Kingdom.
  • Everybody needs to go about their lives as they normally would. Our society should continue to function in accordance with our values. But when it comes to taking on extremism and terrorism, things need to change.


  • Today's votes show people in the UK, and to the EU, that the elected representatives in this country are getting on with the job, and delivering on the will of the British people. Over the next few weeks we will publish more details of our proposed future relationship with the EU in a White Paper, and will bring the Trade and Customs Bills back to the House of Commons. But today has been an important step in delivering the Brexit people voted for, a Brexit that gives Britain a brighter future, a Britain in control of its money, laws, and borders.
  • [I will ensure that] we are out of the customs union, that we are out of the single market, that we are out of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, we are out of the Common Agricultural Policy, we are out of the Common Fisheries Policy, we bring an end to free movement, we take control of our borders, we have an independent trade policy
  • You know we, he and I are all members of the Conservative and Unionist Party. That's because we believe in the union of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland is part of that union. And we have a guarantee for the people of Northern Ireland and we are upholding that. Our Chequers plan does that it's the only plan on the table at the moment that does.
  • We will take back control of our money, by putting an end to vast annual payments to the EU. Instead, we will be able to spend British taxpayers' money on our own priorities, like the extra £394m per week that we are investing in our long-term plan for the NHS.
  • We will take back control of our laws, by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK. In future, our laws will be made, interpreted and enforced by our own courts and legislatures.
  • We will be out of EU programmes that do not work in our interests: out of the Common Agricultural Policy that has failed our farmers and out of the Common Fisheries Policy that has failed our coastal communities. EU citizens who have built their lives in the United Kingdom will have their rights protected, as will UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU.
  • Outside the EU, we will be able to sign new trade deals with other countries and open up new markets in the fastest-growing economies around the world.
  • In 2019 the UK will start a new chapter. The Brexit deal I have negotiated delivers on the vote of the British people. If Parliament backs a deal, Britain can turn a corner. The referendum in 2016 was divisive. But we all want the best for our country and 2019 can be the year we put our differences aside and move forward together, into a strong new relationship with our European neighbours and out into the world as a globally trading nation.


  • Overwhelmingly the British people want us to get on with delivering Brexit and also address the other important issues they care about. I believe it is my duty to deliver on the British people's instruction to leave the European Union and I intend to do so.
  • [I will] continue to work to deliver on the solemn promise to the people of this country to deliver on the result of the referendum and leave the European Union
  • It is good to see that we agree that the UK should leave the European Union with a deal and that the urgent task at hand is to find a deal that honours our commitments to the people of Northern Ireland, can command support in Parliament and can be negotiated with the EU - not to seek an election or second referendum.
  • We triggered Article 50 (the process by which the UK leaves the EU)... that had a two-year time limit, that ends on the 29 March. We want to leave with a deal, and that's what we are working for.
  • It is important to emphasise that disruption increases teacher's workloads and wastes lesson time that teachers have carefully prepared for.
  • Our focus to deliver Brexit must be absolute. We must not, and I will not, frustrate what was the largest democratic exercise in this country's history. In the very final stages of this process, the worst thing we could do is lose our focus.
  • I continue to believe that by far the best outcome is the UK leaves the European Union in an orderly fashion with a deal. And that the deal we have negotiated is the best and indeed only deal available.
  • I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honour of my life to hold. The second female prime minister, but certainly not the last. I do so with no ill will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love.
  • It is important that we deliver a Brexit that is good for the British people. It will be up to my successor to take this forward. To find the majority in Parliament that I was not able to find and to deliver the decision of the British people in 2016.






  • What should be clear from this is whenever you close a route, the migrants and the people smugglers find another way, and anybody who thinks that this Bill will deal with the issue of illegal migration once and for all is wrong.
    Not least because a significant number, if not the majority, of people who are here illegally don't come on small boats, they come legally and overstay their visas.
  • The decision of the the House [of Commons] on this report is important.
    It is important to show the public that there is not one rule for them and another for us. [...]
    Following an unsettling period in our political life, support for the report of the Privileges Committee will be a small but important step in restoring people's trust in members of this House and of Parliament.
    And I also say to members of my own party that it is doubly important for us to show that we are prepared to act when one of our own, however senior, is found wanting.
    I will vote in favour of the report by the Privileges Committee, I urge all members of this House to do so – to uphold standards in public life, to show that we all recognise the responsibility we have to the people we serve and to help to restore faith in our parliamentary democracy.

Quotes about Theresa May

In chronological order
Theresa is a bloody difficult woman. ~ Kenneth Clarke
  • She would frequently clash with George Osborne over immigration. She rarely got on anything but badly with Michael Gove. She and Cameron seemed to view each other with mutual suspicion.
    • David Laws, 22 Days in May: The Birth of the Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition (2010).
  • I cannot remember a time when she did not have political ambitions. I well remember, at the time, that she did want to become the first woman prime minister and she was quite irritated when Margaret Thatcher got there first.
  • Theresa is a bloody difficult woman. … She’s too narrow on her department … She’s been at the Home Office far too long, so I only know in detail what her views are on the Home Office. She doesn’t know much about foreign affairs.
  • May believes in justice, but not in social justice; in individual enterprise, but not in uniting communities.
  • I respect her style – it is steady and serious. She is authoritative in parliament – superficial attacks on her bounce off. When the Tory establishment call her “a bloody difficult woman” she rightly wears it as a badge of pride.
  • She hides when things go wrong. No interviews, no quotes, nothing to reassure people or to remind people she even exists. 
  • Theresa May is the sole architect of this mess. It is her inability to engage in the most basic human interactions that brought us here. Cabinet has totally broken down. Ministers say their bit, she gives nothing away, one side thinks X will happen, the other side think Y will happen, and the Prime Minister decides on Z.
  • [On why Theresa May brought back her deal to be voted on in Parliament for a third time] Fuck knows, I'm past caring, it's like the living dead in here.
  • The United Kingdom, with which the United States has a "special relationship," is no exception. After multiple terrorist attacks rocked Britain in 2017, the president scolded the Brits for failing to rein in extremism. "Another attack in London by a loser terrorist," he tweeted after a train bombing in September 2017. "These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!" Prime Minister Theresa May bristled at the accusation, telling reporters, "I never think it's helpful for anybody to speculate about what is an ongoing conversation." In the months to come, her team would become infuriated with our administration, as President Trump criticized May's handling of Britain's exit from the European Union. When confidential internal messages leaked detailing the British ambassador's critiques of the Trump administration (including the apt observation that the president is "unpredictable" and his White House "dysfunctional") the president proceeded to validate all of the ambassador's concerns with an intemperate overreaction. Rather than showing restraint, he punched down, tweeting that the ambassador was "a very stupid guy," "wacky," and a "pompous fool." For no strategic purpose, other than spitefulness, he also took parting shots at May, who was then stepping down as prime minister, calling her policies a disaster. "What a mess she and her representatives have created," the president said in July 2019, specifically honing[sic] in on Brexit. "I have told her how it should be done, but she decided to go another way... The good news for the wonderful United Kingdom is that they will soon have a new Prime Minister."
    • Anonymous, A Warning (2019), p. 175-176
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