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May Vies for Iron Ladys Mantle as Hard as Nails U.K. Premier

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Boris Johnson spent more than 200,000 pounds on three second-hand German water guns when he was mayor of London, believing Home Secretary Theresa May would rubber-stamp their use by the police. He was wrong.

QuickTake Britain and Brexit

After corresponding with police chiefs, conducting trials and commissioning surveys on the equipment impact on mob, May concluded — thirteen months later — that the cannons were unfit for use. She told Parliament that she had been as thorough and exhaustive as possible.

The episode exemplifies the diligence and resolve May pours into a undertaking that has been a political graveyard for many but shes held longer than anyone in 65 years. Now the 59 -year-old, a preachers daughter like Angela Merkel, is on the cusp of succeeding Prime Minister David Cameron to chart the U.K.s course out of the European Union.

Woe-betide the minister who goes into a meeting with Theresa May unprepared, Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock said in a telephone interview after May won the first round of voting in the Conservative Party leadership race on Tuesday. She has both the strength of character and the proven experience to deliver.

Gloves Off

May must still beat Andrea Leadsom, energy pastor, if she is to become premier in September, after Conservative lawmakers whittled five candidates down to two. Bookmakers stimulated her the favorite after she secured the purposes of 60 percentage of Tory Members of Parliament. She now needs to persuade the wider 125,000 -strong party membership that she deserves their backing, even though she opposed the vote for a so-called Brexit that was widely approved by Tories.

In her time in government, May hasnt shied away from a fight. When she and leadership challenger Michael Gove locked horns two years ago over Islamic extremism in schools, May came out on topwhen he was demoted soon after. She clashed with Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne over immigration and defended her departments budget against expense cuts with such ferocity to earn a place in the so-called awkward squad.

Cold Edge

May was a tough negotiator and fought her own corner with some determination, David Laws, who served under Cameron as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, wrote in his book Coalition.

Year after year, May has delivered speeches to a hostile Police Federation, offering up a menu of budget cuts, pay freezes and unpopular reforms. Shes been giggled at, booed, and was necessary to resign by officers.

Shes hard as nails, according to Norman Baker, a Liberal Democrat who served as a minister in her department for 13 months.

Her supporters argue that track record devote her an edge over her female rival when it is necessary to extracting concessions from the EU once the trigger is pulled and the clock starts on two years of talks.

Bloody Difficult

On her climb up the Tory ladder, Mays cool demeanor garnered a series of disparaging nicknames among her male colleagues, Law writes. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg pegged her an Ice Maiden, while another cabinet colleague, Eric Pickles, referred to her as Tricksy Belle of Marsham Street, the London thoroughfare where the Home Office stands. There was a distinct frostiness between Cameron and May, he added.

“Theresa is a bloody difficult girl, her former cabinet colleague Kenneth Clarke said Monday in an unguarded remark to former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind that was caught on camera by Sky News. But you and I worked for Margaret Thatcher, the famously tough former prime minister known as the Iron Lady.

While her colleagues find her frosty, the tabloid-reading population know of her savour for leopard-print kitten-heel shoes. I enjoy clothes, I enjoy way, she told the Mail on Sunday in 2013, three years into her stint in one of the four so-called great offices of state.

Born in Eastbourne on the south coast of England in 1956, she was the only child of a Church of England vicar and the exotically-named Zaidee Brasier. She analyse geography at the University of Oxford, where Benazir Bhutto, future chairman of Pakistan, introduced her to the man she married.

She started her own life at the Bank of England before moving to a financial-services trade association as a senior consultant. Then came a call to serve: First as councillor in Merton, south London for 8 years, followed by two unsuccessful bids to be elected to Parliament before succeeding in Maidenhead, west of London, in 1997. Shes served the constituency ever since.

Nasty Party

May rose to national prominence in 2002, when as the Conservatives first female chairperson, she told delegates the public considered theirs the nasty party — a criticism that still riles with some in the grassroots.

There has been nothing before or since that indicates a great affinity between May and the politics of the Conservative Party membership, Ben Harris-Quinney a party member and chairman of the Bow Group, a Conservative think-tank, said in a phone interview.

Be that as it may, shes survived at her current post longer than the four previous home secretaries blended. Known for poring over ministerial newspapers into the early hours of the morning, May has type 1 diabetes, a condition that means she has to inject herself with insulin at the least twice a day.

To jog your memory on how the U.K. election to quit the EU went down, click here

When announcing her candidacy, she acknowledged shes not a showy politician.

“I dont tour the television studios, she said to cheers last week. I dont gossip about people over lunch. I dont run drinking in Parliaments bars. I dont often wear my heart on my sleeve, I only get on with the job in front of me.

Shes also been more forthcoming about her private life. She and her husband, Philip, cannot have children. While it affected her, she told the Mail on Sunday, you accept the hand that life deals you.

In her time in government, shes principally stuck to discussing her brief, though a meeting speech in 2014 that forayed into foreign affairs was widely interpreted as a pitch to succeed Cameron. Shes yet to outline a detailed economic philosophy.

Click here to read more about how the U.K. and Europe Can break up, amicably

Among her success she lists cutting police expending without crime going to go, standing up to the U.S. government by denying the extradition of a Briton on charges of hacking military computers, and deporting the Muslim cleric Abu Qatada to face charges in Jordan after her 5 predecessors failed to do so in 12 years of battling with the courts.

On the down side, shes struggled to get net immigration down in part due to the EU freedom of movement regulations. A longstanding Euroskeptic who reluctantly sided with the Remain camp, May was rarely considered during the campaign.

Shes got lots of experience but are we sure what she actually stands for? said Andrew Rosindell, a backbench Tory lawmaker. Im not, to be honest.

In the wake of the referendum outcome, she wasted no time stepping out of the shadows and into the ring following Camerons resignation. Brexit means Brexit she declared before taking a swipe at a dithering Johnson, the then favorite who hours later said he wouldnt stand.

I have done this: I have sat around the table; I know what its like in those European meetings. Ive not just done it, Ive delivered, she said. As for Johnson, the last time he did a deal with the Germans he came back with three nearly-new water cannon.

Read more: www.bloomberg.com

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