Theresa May

Britain's New Iron Lady

may
Theresa May is likely to be the new resident of 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the British prime minister.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Whoever emerges as Britain’s new prime minister will have a critical influence over Brexit negotiations, and will find themselves squaring off with Ms. Merkel.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Ms. May is currently the runaway favorite to become Britain’s new prime minister.
    • The 59-year-old is the country’s longest-serving interior minister and was a low-profile Remain supporter during the referendum campaign.
    • She shares several traits with Ms. Merkel, including background, family status, political outlook and single-mindedness.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

Theresa May… but then again, she may not.

That was the joke making the rounds in London last week as Britain’s powerful interior minister prevaricated over whether to join the race to be the country’s next prime minister. But a few days on, and it is Ms. May who’s having the last laugh.

The Conservative Party’s leading female ultimately made a decisive entry into the party’s leadership contest, a race triggered by the post-Brexit vote resignation of David Cameron. And the sure-footed move is already paying off.

In the first-round ballot of party lawmakers on Tuesday, the former banker emerged as the runaway favorite, securing more than half of the votes in a five-way contest. A YouGov poll on Monday showed that she has enormous support among the party’s grassroots, who will be the final arbiters of victory. The winner, to be declared in September, will become prime minister.

With Margaret Thatcher having already set the bar for steely, determined female leadership, Ms. May’s bid for the top job raised few eyebrows at home. But her candidacy came as more of a surprise outside of Britain in the European Union.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.