Theresa May becomes new British Prime Minister

01:17 - Source: CNN
Britain's unelected Prime Ministers

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Theresa May names chief leadership rivals Boris Johnson, Liam Fox to Cabinet

May faces daunting task as she negotiates UK "Brexit" from the European Union

CNN —  

When Theresa May took over as Britain’s new Prime Minister, her spouse of nearly four decades stepped out of the shadows and into the limelight.

The Conservative Party leader spoke directly to the poor, black and white working-class residents as well as women, youth and those with mental health issues, saying, “The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of a privileged few, but by yours.”

Her party prizes unionism, she said, and not just among England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, “but between all of our citizens, everyone, whoever we are and wherever we’re from.”

“David Cameron has led a one-nation government, and it is in that spirit that I also plan to lead,” she said.

May wasted no time getting to work, naming six Cabinet members shortly after taking the nation’s helm. Among them were two of her chief rivals in her bid to head the Conservative Party: members of Parliament Boris Johnson and Liam Fox.

Who is Theresa May?

In his final appearance in Parliament as Prime Minister, Cameron opened with the quip that “apart from one meeting in the afternoon with the Queen, my diary is remarkably light.”

Before resigning, Cameron delivered remarks outside 10 Downing Street, saying, “It’s not been an easy journey, and of course we’ve not got every decision right, but I do believe that today our country is much stronger.”

He wished May the best, especially as she negotiates the country’s “Brexit” from the European Union. If he were granted one wish, he said, it would be the “continued success of this great country that I love so very much.” Cameron will continue on as a member of Parliament.

Live updates: Theresa May takes reins

Leaving on light note

Earlier Wednesday, Cameron appeared to be in a jovial mood as he told members of Parliament: “I have addressed 5,500 questions from this dispatch box – I’ll leave it to others to decide how many I’ve answered.”

He held up a photo of himself with Larry the Downing Street cat, saying he loved the “chief mouser” and was sad to be leaving him behind.

On a more serious note, Cameron said he cared passionately about the UK, adding that “we need to make sure as we leave the EU, how we keep the benefits of the common travel area.”

Gesturing across the room and up to his wife, Samantha, watching from the gallery, he said: “I will miss the roar of the crowd, I will miss the barbs from the opposition, but I will be willing you on.

“Nothing is really impossible if you put your mind to it. After all, as I once said, I was the future once.”

How did we get here?

Cameron announced his resignation last month, following the UK’s shock referendum vote to leave the EU.

May – who became Conservative leader Monday after her sole contender for the job, Andrea Leadsom, dropped out of the race – is Britain’s second female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher, who held office from 1979 to 1990.

The past few weeks have been dramatic ones in British politics, with Brexit setting off a domino effect of politicians falling by the wayside – Cameron resigned, allies stabbed likely successor Boris Johnson “in the back,” and leadership contender Leadsom threw in the towel amid controversial comments on motherhood.