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Expert: New UK Prime Minister Theresa May far from resembling Iron Lady

July 12, 18:19 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Theresa May will become the party leader and the new prime minister on July 13, after David Cameron steps down
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MOSCOW, July 12. /TASS/. UK Conservative Party leader Theresa May, who will succeed outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday, is unlikely to resemble Margaret Thatcher in her policies, a Russian expert said on Tuesday.

"No one thought that all the candidates for the post, except for Theresa May, would drop out of the race or fully withdraw their candidacy," Director of the Institute of Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei Gromyko said in an interview with Rossiya-24 TV channel.

"In this sense, the situation has unfolded faster than could have been expected. May will become the party leader and the new prime minister on July 13, after David Cameron steps down," the expert said.

Iron Lady No. 2

In the expert’s opinion, expectations that May will follow in the footsteps of the UK’s first female prime minister who led Britain from 1979 to 1990 are exaggerated.

"However, parallels can be drawn: she comes from a middle-class family, went to a public school and then studied at the elite Oxford University. Theresa May is a veteran politician, who managed to get elected to the House of Commons in 1997. Besides that, she has broken the century-old record by remaining in the ‘unforgiving’ post of UK home secretary for nearly six years," the expert said.

"Compared to Thatcher, as a politician, she is not as public and less charismatic," the director of the Institute of Europe noted.

"Unique as it may be, she has not offended anyone in the party and she has been elected so the country could steer through the unpleasant period of the so-called divorce with the EU," the expert said.

"She has also been elected to minimize risks and fallout to the UK from Brexit," he added.

"Similarly, Thatcher was also elected to break with Great Britain’s post-war social and economic model," Gromyko said.

Building relations and responding to opposition

"Theresa May is lucky to find herself in this situation," the expert said. "This is because a few months ago she could not have even dreamt that these circumstances would launch her to such heights," he said.

"She is also lucky that there is no strong opposition currently in the parliament," Gromyko said. "Labor is even in greater disarray than the ruling party now," he added. That said, the Conservative Party has undergone a serious rift between those who supported Brexit and the party’s moderate wing," the expert said.

The incoming PM took the side of the ‘remain’ campaign. ‘That is why, May should now try to win over Eurosceptics and negotiate between Brussels and London so as to soften any consequences for Great Britain," the expert noted, adding that she should do her utmost to maintain Britain’s access to EU markets.

The changeover in the UK’s leadership came from David Cameron’s decision to step down after a majority of UK voters opposed his stance on Britain staying in the European Union and voted in favor of Brexit at the June 23 referendum.

Following the referendum’s results, two-stage elections for a new Tory leader were held in the parliamentary faction of the ruling Conservative Party.

The MP’s second round of voting brought the candidates to a third and final stage, where the Conservative Party’s 150,000-strong membership was slated to choose between May as a clear favorite and Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom. However, on the eve of the vote Leadsom quit the race, leaving May as the clear victor with no one to run against. The new PM is scheduled to move into 10 Downing Street on July 13.

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