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3 Reasons Americans Should Care Theresa May is the UK’s New Prime Minister


Theresa May (UK Home Office/Flickr)

This Wednesday, David Cameron officially stepped down as the United Kingdom's prime minister. Enter Theresa May.

In the aftermath of the historic #Brexit vote, it was a swift move with Cameron stepping down and May replacing him all in one day.

But, who is she? And why should Americans and others around the world care?

This is Theresa May.

Her official office photo (UK Home Office/Wikimedia)

59-year-old Theresa May is a longtime politician in the United Kingdom--she's been in the parliament for Maidenhead of England since 1997.

May was elected Home Secretary in 2010. In the UK, the Home Secretary is kind of like a combination of the Homeland Security chief and FBI director in the US (with some State Department responsibilities too). So May focused on crime policy, counter-terrorism, immigration, and passports. May set the record for being the country's longest serving Home Secretary before becoming PM.

May has been a member of the Conservative Party in the UK and is now the leader. She wasn't nationally elected, but rather was appointed as the leader of the party to replace David Cameron, who quit post-Brexit.

1. She's female.

She's stood the test of time as a female politician, having weathered more than two decades of an elected political career thus far.

May speaking at the Girl Summit in 2014 (DFID - UK Department for International Development/Wikimedia)

May is the country's second female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher, who took on the role in 1979. Women's political rights have changed a lot since then. Women can vote in many more countries across the world, and the percentage of women in parliaments rose by ten percent globally. Thatcher was one of two female prime ministers in the world in 1979. May is now one of 16 female leaders today. It's still low, considering there are over 150 countries in the world.

With May in office, we now have two women ruling two of Europe's and the world's superpowers. The other is Angela Merkel of Germany. #girlpower

How will this affect how Americans view the 2016 election? Will gender factor in with Hillary Clinton running? If she wins, there could be female leaders in three of the world's superpowers.

2. It's a fresh start.

It's a new reboot for US and UK relations.

May isn't well known in the United States. She hasn't made many comments about the UK-US relationship as she has always focused on British issues in her career, but now her job will require she start.

President Obama called to congratulate May today on her new position. It looks like she'll start working to continue the UK-US relationship with President Barack Obama, even amid America's complicated election season. Even though Obama's leaving office soon, she's starting now to hopefully maintain trust between the two countries post-Brexit.

3. Her and the world.

There's a lot to address in the world and the UK is involved.

Speaking at a summit on Ukraine (Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Wikimedia)

First off, there's the issue of the Brexit. May has vowed to abide by the country's vote to follow through with leaving the European Union. This has left many countries around the world concerned, because of potential economic issues caused by Britain's exit from the European Union.

Then, there's the continuing refugee crisis from Syria, Iraq, and other conflict areas of the Middle East and Africa streaming into Europe. She may want to cut immigration levels. May, who's known as a tough politician, will also likely still continue the UK fight against ISIS.

May is taking on this new mantle amidst a rapidly changing worldwide political landscape, and the role she plays in this time of transition will likely have effects that last for decades to come.

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3 Reasons Americans Should Care Theresa May is the UK’s New Prime Minister

Patrick deHahn

Patrick deHahn is a freelance international news reporter, having contributed to The Atlantic online and Mic. He's worked at CNNMoney, the New York Daily News, and Voice of America. Patrick loves tweeting, reading, and grabbing coffee in either New York or Washington D.C. Tweet anything on politics or world conflict to him! Follow: @patrickdehahn.

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