It has been an amazing time in British politics, which is why I am writing a third consecutive column on what has been going on — politically — in the land of my birth.
I am very pleased by the number of positive comments I have received from readers about sharing my perspective on what is happening across the pond. Thank you.
Following Great Britain’s recent vote to exit the European Union (Brexit) and the resignation of David Cameron (the prime minister who supported staying in Europe), the U.K. now has a new prime minister, who is only the second woman to ever hold this post, Theresa May.
However, let me start by saying that Theresa May did not get this job simply because she is a woman. She got it because she has integrity, is scandal-free and successfully ran the Home Office for six years, which carries responsibility for policing, security, immigration and citizenship. She has a reputation for getting things done and was chosen by a majority of the legislature. She absolutely deserves the job based on merit, not gender.
When discussing the process of appointing a new prime minister in Britain, it occurs to me that some Americans are a little surprised that there was no general election among citizens to decide who this should be, as would be the case of the president of the United States. That is because the U.K. has a parliamentary democracy — a democratic form of government in which the party or a coalition of parties with the largest representation in the Parliament forms the government, with its leader becoming prime minister.
So in simplistic terms, the members of Parliament (MPs) decide among themselves, and if there is more than one candidate, the MPs formally vote, which did not take place on this occasion since the other candidates withdrew. If the electorate doesn’t like the prime minister, they vote the party out at the next general election.
In a quaint tradition going back centuries, the outgoing prime minister then goes to Buckingham Palace to ask "permission" from her majesty the queen to dissolve the current government. This is immediately followed by the queen asking the incoming prime minister to form a new government. May is Queen Elizabeth’s 13th prime minister, and they will meet every week to discuss political matters — about which the queen remains informed but neutral.
As would be expected, May has shaken up the Cabinet, which saw some promotions for women and Brexiteers. The justice secretary spot went to Liz Truss, who was appointed the first female lord chancellor in the 1,000-year history of the role. Lord chancellor is one of the most important roles in government and carries responsibility for the independent functioning of the judicial system.
Naturally, there have been comparisons between May and Margaret Thatcher, the U.K.’s first female prime minister, who held this position from 1979 to 1990. I have always admired Thatcher’s ideology of private enterprise, a free market economy, low taxation and self-reliance. In my opinion, May’s appointment and the appointment of Truss as first female lord chancellor reminds girls that women can accomplish anything we set our minds to.
Finally, here is a recent quote from the new prime minister: "We are living through an important moment in our country’s history. Following the referendum, we face a time of great national change. … As we leave the European Union, we will forge a bold, new, positive role for ourselves in the world."
God bless America, as well as the new British prime minister.