Theresa May

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Right Honourable
Theresa May
Theresa May UK Home Office (cropped).jpg
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Assumed office
13 July 2016
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by David Cameron
Leader of the Conservative Party
Assumed office
11 July 2016
Preceded by David Cameron
Home Secretary
In office
12 May 2010 – 13 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Alan Johnson
Succeeded by Amber Rudd
Minister for Women and Equalities
In office
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Preceded by Harriet Harman
Succeeded by Maria Miller
Chair of the Conservative Party
In office
23 July 2002 – 6 November 2003
Leader Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by David Davis
Succeeded by Liam Fox
The Lord Saatchi
Member of Parliament
for Maidenhead
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by Constituency established
Majority 29,059 (54.0%)
Personal details
Born Theresa Mary Brasier
1 October 1956 (age 59)
Eastbourne, England, UK
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Philip May (m. 1980)
Residence 10 Downing Street
Alma mater St Hugh’s College, Oxford
Religion Anglicanism[1][2]
Website Government website

Theresa Mary May (née Brasier; born 1 October 1956) is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party. She has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Maidenhead since 1997. May identifies as a One-Nation Conservative and is characterised as a liberal conservative.

The daughter of a vicar, May grew up in Oxfordshire. From 1977 until 1983, she worked for the Bank of England, and from 1985 until 1997 at theAssociation for Payment Clearing Services, also serving as a councillor for theLondon Borough of Merton‘s Durnsford Ward. After unsuccessful attempts to be elected to the House of Commons in 1992 and 1994, she was elected MP for Maidenhead in the 1997 general election. May served in a number of roles in the Shadow Cabinets of William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard, and David Cameron, including Shadow Leader of the House of Commons and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary. She was also theChairman of the Conservative Party from 2002 until 2003.

After the formation of the Coalition Government following the 2010 general election, May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, giving up the latter role in 2012. Reappointed after the Conservative victory in the 2015 general election, she went on to become the longest-serving Home Secretary since James Chuter Ede over 60 years previously, pursuing reform of the police, taking a harder line on drug policy and introducing restrictions on immigration.[3]

Following the resignation of David Cameron on 24 June 2016, May announced her candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party and quickly emerged as the front-runner. She won the first ballot of Conservative MPs on 5 July by a significant margin, and two days later won the votes of 199 MPs, going forward to face a vote of Conservative Party members in a contest withAndrea Leadsom. Leadsom’s withdrawal from the election on 11 July led to May’s appointment as leader the same day. She was appointed Prime Minister two days later.

Early life and education

Born on 1 October 1956 in Eastbourne, Sussex, May is the only child of Zaidee Mary (née Barnes; 1928–1982) and Hubert Brasier (1917–1981).[4]Her father was a Church of England clergyman who was chaplain of an Eastbourne hospital. He later became vicar of Enstone with Heythrop and finally of St Mary’s at Wheatley, to the east of Oxford.[5][6][7][8]

The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Wheatley, where May’s father was vicar and where May married.[9][10]

May was educated primarily in the state sector but with a short spell at an independent Catholic school. She initially attended Heythrop Primary School, a state school in Heythrop, followed by St. Juliana’s Convent School for Girls, aRoman Catholic independent school in Begbroke, which closed in 1984.[11][12][13]

At the age of 13, May won a place at the former Holton Park Girls’ Grammar School, a state school in Wheatley. During her time as a pupil, the Oxfordshire education system was reorganised and the school became the new Wheatley Park Comprehensive School.[11][14] May then went to the University of Oxfordwhere she studied geography at St Hugh’s College, graduating with a second class BA degree in 1977.[15]

Early career

Between 1977 and 1983 May worked at the Bank of England, and from 1985 to 1997 as a financial consultant and senior advisor in International Affairs at the Association for Payment Clearing Services.[16] Both May’s parents died during this period, her father in a car accident in 1981 and her mother of multiple sclerosis the year after.[17][18]

May served as a councillor for the London Borough of Merton from 1986 to 1994, where she was Chairman of Education (1988–90) and Deputy Group Leader and Housing Spokesman (1992–94). In the 1992 general election May stood unsuccessfully for the seat of North West Durham and failed to win the1994 Barking by-election. In the 1997 general election, May was elected as the Conservative MP for Maidenhead.[16]

Early political career

Having entered Parliament, May became a member of William Hague‘s front-benchOpposition team, as Shadow Spokesman for Schools, Disabled People and Women (1998 – June 1999). She became the first of the 1997 MPs to enter the Shadow Cabinet when in 1999 she was appointed Shadow Education and Employment Secretary. After the 2001 election the new Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smithkept her in the Shadow Cabinet, moving her to the Transport portfolio.

May was appointed the first female Chairman of the Conservative Party in July 2002. During her speech at the 2002 Conservative Party Conference, she explained why, in her view, her party must change: “you know what people call us: theNasty Party“.[19][20] In 2003, she was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Transportafter Michael Howard‘s election as Conservative Party and Opposition Leader in November that year.[21]

In June 2004 she was moved to become Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. David Cameronappointed her Shadow Leader of the House of Commons in December 2005 after his accession to the leadership. In January 2009 May was made Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

On 6 May 2010, May was re-elected MP for Maidenhead with an increased majority of 16,769 – 60 per cent of the vote. This followed an earlier failed attempt to unseat her in 2005 as one of the Liberal Democrats’ leading “decapitation-strategy” targets.[22]

Home Secretary

May with then Prime Minister, David Cameron, May 2010

On 12 May 2010, when May was appointed Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality by Prime Minister David Cameron as part of his first Cabinet, she became the fourth woman to hold one of the British Great Offices of State, after (in order of seniority)Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister), Margaret Beckett (Foreign Secretary) and Jacqui Smith(Home Secretary).[23] As Home Secretary, May is also a member of the National Security Council.[24] She is the longest-serving Home Secretary for over 60 years, since James Chuter Ede who served over six years and two months from August 1945 to October 1951. May’s appointment as Home Secretary was somewhat unexpected, as Chris Grayling had served as shadow Home Secretary in opposition.[25][26]

May’s debut as Home Secretary involved overturning several of the previous Labour Government’s measures on data collection and surveillance in England and Wales. By way of a Government Bill which became the Identity Documents Act 2010, she brought about the abolition of the Labour Government’s National Identity Card and database scheme[27][28]and reformed the regulations on the retention of DNA samples for suspects and controls on the use of CCTV cameras. On 20 May 2010, May announced the adjournment of the deportation to the United States of alleged computer hacker Gary McKinnon.[29] She also suspended the registration scheme for carers of children and vulnerable people, with May saying that the measures were “draconian. You were assumed to be guilty until you were proven innocent, and told you were able to work with children.”[30][31]

On 4 August 2010 it was reported that May was scrapping the former Labour Government’s proposed “go orders” scheme to protect women from domestic violence by banning abusers from the victim’s home.[32] This was followed on 6 August 2010 by the closure of the previous government’s “ContactPoint” database of 11 million under-18-year-olds designed to protect children in the wake of the Victoria Climbié child abuse scandal.[33]

On 2 June 2010, May faced her first major national security incident as Home Secretary with the Cumbria shootings.[34][35]She delivered her first major speech in the House of Commons as Home Secretary in a statement on this incident,[36] later visiting the victims with the Prime Minister.[37][38] Also in June 2010, May banned the Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naikfrom entering the United Kingdom.[39] According to the Telegraph, a Home Office official who disagreed with this decision was suspended.[40] In late June 2010, May announced plans for a temporary cap on UK visas for non-EU migrants.[41] The move raised concerns about the impact on the British economy.[42]

May speaking at the Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery in 2014

In August 2013 May supported the detention of David Miranda, partner of Guardianjournalist Glenn Greenwald under the Terrorism Act 2000, saying that critics of the Metropolitan Police action needed to “think about what they are condoning”.[43] Lib Dem peer and former Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald accused May of an “ugly and unhelpful” attempt to implicate those who were concerned about the police action of “condoning terrorism”.[43] The High Court subsequently acknowledged there were “indirect implications for press freedom” but ruled the detention legal.[44]

May also championed legislation popularly dubbed the Snooper’s Charter, requiring internet and mobile service providers to keep records of internet usage, voice calls, messages and email for up to a year in case police requested access to the records whilst investigating a crime. The Liberal Democrats had blocked the first attempt,[45] but after the Conservative Party obtained a majority in the 2015 general election May announced a new Draft Investigatory Powers Bill similar to the Draft Communications Data Bill, although with more limited powers and additional oversight.[46][47]

Police and crime

Speaking at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) conference on 29 June 2010, May announced radical cuts to the Home Office budget, likely to lead to a reduction in police numbers.[48] In July 2010, May presented the House of Commons with proposals for a fundamental review of the previous Labour government’s security and counter-terrorism legislation, including “stop and search” powers, and her intention to review the 28-day limit on detaining terrorist suspects without charge.[49][50]

On 26 July 2010, May announced a package of reforms to policing in England and Wales in the House of Commons.[51]The previous Labour Government’s central crime agency, Soca (Serious Organised Crime Agency), was to be replaced by a new National Crime Agency. In common with the Conservative Party 2010 general election manifesto’s flagship proposal for a “Big Society” based on voluntary action, May also proposed increasing the role of civilian “reservists” for crime control. The reforms were rejected by the Opposition Labour Party.[51]

Following the actions of some members of Black Bloc in vandalising allegedly tax-avoiding shops and businesses on the day of 26 March TUC march, the Home Secretary unveiled reforms[52] curbing the right to protest, including giving police extra powers to remove masked individuals and to police social networking sites to prevent illegal protest without police consent or notification.[53]

In July 2013, May welcomed the fact that crime had fallen by more than ten percent under the coalition government, while still being able to make savings. She said that this was partly due to the government removing red tape and scrapping targets to allow the police to concentrate on crime fighting.[54]

In 2014, May delivered a well-known speech to the Police Federation, in which she criticised many aspects of the culture of the police force.[55] In the speech, she said:

When you remember the list of recent revelations about police misconduct, it is not enough to mouth platitudes about “a few bad apples”. The problem might lie with a minority of officers, but it is still a significant problem, and a problem that needs to be addressed … according to one survey carried out recently, only 42% of black people from a Caribbean background trust the police. That is simply not sustainable … I will soon publish proposals to strengthen the protections available to whistleblowers in the police. I am creating a new criminal offence of police corruption. And I am determined that the use of stop and search must come down, become more targeted and lead to more arrests.[56]

On 9 December 2010, in the wake of violent student demonstrations in central London against increases to higher-education tuition fees, May praised the actions of the police in controlling the demonstrations but was described by The Daily Telegraph as “under growing political pressure” due to her handling of the protests.[57][58]

In December 2010, May declared that deployment of water cannon by police forces in mainland Britain was an operational decision which had been “resisted until now by senior police officers.”[59] She rejected their use following the widespread rioting in Summer 2011 and said: “the way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon. The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities.” May said: “I condemn utterly the violence in Tottenham…. Such disregard for public safety and property will not be tolerated, and the Metropolitan Police have my full support in restoring order.”[60]

In the aftermath of the riots May urged the identification of as many as possible of the young criminals involved. She said: “when I was in Manchester last week, the issue was raised to me about the anonymity of juveniles who are found guilty of crimes of this sort. The Crown Prosecution Service is to order prosecutors to apply for anonymity to be lifted in any youth case they think is in the public interest. The law currently protects the identity of any suspect under the age of 18, even if they are convicted, but it also allows for an application to have such restrictions lifted, if deemed appropriate.” May added that “what I’ve asked for is that CPS guidance should go to prosecutors to say that where possible, they should be asking for the anonymity of juveniles who are found guilty of criminal activity to be lifted.”[61]

Anti-social behaviour

On 28 July 2010, May proposed to review the previous Labour Government’s anti-social behaviour legislation signalling the abolition of the “Anti-Social Behaviour Order” (ASBO). She identified the policy’s high level of failure with almost half of ASBOs breached between 2000 and 2008, leading to “fast-track” criminal convictions. May proposed a less punitive, community-based approach to tackling social disorder. May suggested that anti-social behaviour policy “must be turned on its head”, reversing the ASBO’s role as the flagship crime control policy legislation under Labour.[62][63] Former Labour Home Secretaries David Blunkett (who introduced ASBOs) and Alan Johnson expressed their disapproval of the proposals.[64]

Drug policy

Khat bundles

In July 2013, May decided to ban the stimulant khat, against the advice of theAdvisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). The council reached the conclusion that there was “insufficient evidence” it caused health problems.[65]Explaining the change in the classification May said: “The decision to bring khat under control is finely balanced and takes into account the expert scientific advice and these broader concerns”, and pointed out that the product had already been banned in the majority of other EU member states, as well as most of the G8 countries including Canada and the US.[66] A report on khat use by the ACMD published in January 2013 had noted the product had been associated with “acute psychotic episodes”, “chronic liver disease” and family breakdown. However, it concluded that there is no risk of harm for most users, and recommended that khat remain uncontrolled due to lack of evidence for these associations.[67]

Liberal Democrat minister Norman Baker accused May of suppressing proposals to treat rather than prosecute minor drug offenders from a report into drug policy commissioned by the Home Office.[68][69] The Home Office denied that its officials had considered this as part of their strategy. Baker cited difficulties in working with May as the reason for his resignation from the Home Office in the run-up to the 2015 General Election.[70][71][72][73]


In 2010, May promised to bring the level of net migration down to less than 100,000.[74] In February 2015, The Independentreported, “The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced a net flow of 298,000 migrants to the UK in the 12 months to September 2014—up from 210,000 in the previous year.”[75] In total, 624,000 people migrated to the UK in the year ending September 2014 and 327,000 left in the same period. Statistics showed “significant increases in migration among both non-EU citizens – up 49,000 to 292,000 – and EU citizens, which rose by 43,000 to 251,000.”[75]

May rejected the European Union’s proposal of compulsory refugee quotas.[76] She said that it was important to help people living in war-zone regions and refugee camps but “not the ones who are strong and rich enough to come to Europe”.[77] In May 2016, The Daily Telegraph reported that she had tried to save £4m by rejecting an intelligence project to use aircraft surveillance to detect illegal immigrant boats.[78]

Family migration

European Economic Area members in blue and green

On 11 June 2012, May, as Home Secretary, announced to Parliament that new restrictions would be introduced, intended to reduce the number of non-European Economic Area family migrants. The changes were mostly intended to apply to new applicants after 9 July 2012.[79] The new rules came into effect from 9 July 2012 allowing only those British citizens earning more than £18,600 to bring their spouse or their child to live with them in the UK. This figure would rise significantly in cases where visa applications are also made for children. They also increased the current two-year probationary period for partners to five years. The rules also prevent any adult and elderly dependents from settling in the UK unless they can demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided by a relative in the UK.[80]

An MP, who was concerned about this, addressed May in Parliament as to whether she had examined the impact on communities and families on modest incomes, but he received no direct response.[81] Liberty concluded that the new rules showed scant regard to the impact they would have on genuine families.[82] The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration conducted an evidence based inquiry into the impact of the rules and concluded in their report that the rules were causing very young children to be separated from their parents and could exile British citizens from the UK.[83]

Deportation decisions

May, David Cameron and MalaysianPrime Minister Najib Razak, 14 July 2011

At the Conservative Party Conference on 4 October 2011, while arguing that the Human Rights Act needed to be amended, May gave the example of a foreign national who the Courts ruled was allowed to remain in the UK, “because—and I am not making this up—he had a pet cat”. In response, the Royal Courts of Justice issued a statement, denying that this was the reason for the tribunal’s decision in that case, and stating that the real reason was that he was in a genuine relationship with a British partner, and owning a pet cat was simply one of many pieces of evidence given to show that the relationship was “genuine”. The Home Office had failed to apply its own rules for dealing with unmarried partners of people settled in the UK.[84] Amnesty International said May’s comments only fuelled “myths and misconceptions” about the Human Rights Act and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarkesubsequently called May’s comments “laughable and childlike.”[85][86]

In June 2012, May was found in contempt of court by Judge Barry Cotter, and stood accused of “totally unacceptable and regrettable behaviour”, being said to have shown complete disregard for a legal agreement to free an Algerian from a UK Immigration Detention Centre. As she eventually allowed the prisoner to be freed, May avoided further sanctions including fines or imprisonment.[87][88]

May responded to a Supreme Court decision in November 2013 to overturn her predecessor Jacqui Smith‘s revocation of Iraqi-born terror suspect Al Jedda’s British citizenship by ordering it to be revoked for a second time, making him the first person to be stripped twice of British citizenship.[89][90][91]

May was accused by Lord Roberts of being willing to allow someone to die “to score a political point” over the deportation of mentally ill Nigerian man Isa Muazu.[92] According to Muazu’s solicitor, May had arranged for the asylum seeker, who was said to be “near death” after a 100-day hunger strike, to be deported by a chartered private jet.[92] To strengthen the Home Office’s tough stance an “end of life’ plan was reportedly offered to Muazu, who was one of a number of hunger strikers at the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre.[93]

Abu Qatada deportation

Abu Qatada boards a plane for deportation to Jordan

On 7 July 2013, Abu Qatada, a radical cleric arrested in 2002, was deported toJordan after a decade-long battle that had cost the nation £1.7 million in legal fees,[94] and numerous prior Home Secretaries had been unable to resolve.[95] The deportation was the result of a treaty negotiated by May in April 2013, under which Jordan agreed to give Qatada a fair trial, and to refrain from torturing him.[96]

May has frequently pointed to Qatada’s deportation as a triumph, guaranteeing in September 2013 that “he will not be returning to the UK”, and declaring in her 2016 leadership campaign announcement that she was told that she “couldn’t deport Abu Qatada” but that she “flew to Jordan and negotiated the treaty that got him out of Britain for good”.[97][98] The Qatada deportation also shaped May’s views on theEuropean Convention on Human Rights and European Court of Human Rights, saying that they had “moved the goalposts” and had a “crazy interpretation of our human rights laws”, as a result, May has since campaigned against the institutions, saying that British withdrawal from them should be considered.[94]

Passport backlog

In mid 2014, the Passport Office faced a backlog in developing processing passport applications, with around 30,000 applications hit by delays.[99] David Cameron suggested this had come about due to the Passport Office’s receiving an “above normal” 300,000-rise in applications.[100] It was revealed, however, that May had been warned the year before, in July 2013, that a surge of 350,000 extra applications could occur owing to the closure of processing overseas under Chancellor Osborne’s programme of cuts.[101] Around £674,000 was paid to staff who helped clear the backlog.[102]

Birmingham schools row

In June 2014, an inflamed public argument arose between Home Office and Education Ministers about responsibility foralleged extremism in Birmingham schools.[103][104] Prime Minister David Cameron intervened to resolve the row, insisting that May sack her Special Advisor Fiona Cunningham (now Hill) for releasing on May’s website a confidential letter to May’s colleagues,[105] and that Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, apologise to the Home Office’s head of Security and Counter-Terrorism, Charles Farr, for uncomplimentary briefings of him appearing on the front page of The Times.[106][107]

Minister for Women and Equality

May and Justine Greening speaking at Youth For Change, 19 July 2014

May held the office of Minister for Women and Equality in parallel to her office of Home Secretary from 2010 to September 2012, when this role was taken overMaria Miller.[108]

May’s appointment as Minister for Women and Equality was criticised by some members of the LGBT rights movement,[109] because she had voted against lowering the age of consent (in 1998) and against greater adoption rights for homosexuals (in 2002), though she had voted in favour of civil partnerships.[110][111]May later stated, during an appearance on the BBC’s Question Time, that she had “changed her mind” on gay adoption.[112] Writing for PinkNews in June 2010, May clarified her proposals for improving LGBT rights including measures to tackle homophobia in sport, advocating British society’s need for “cultural change”.[113]

On 2 July 2010, May stated she would be supporting the previous Labour Government’s Anti-Discrimination Laws enshrined in the Equality Act 2010 despite having opposed it before.[114] The Equality Act came into effect in England, Wales and Scotland on 1 October 2010.[115] She did however announce that a clause she dubbed “Harman‘s Law”[116]which would have required public bodies to consider how they can reduce socio-economic inequalities when making decisions about spending and services[117] would be scrapped on the grounds that it was “unworkable”.[118]

Support for same-sex marriage

In May 2012, May expressed support for the introduction of same-sex marriage by recording a video for the Out4Marriagecampaign.[119] May became one of the first high-profile Conservative MPs to pledge personal support for same-sex marriage. She explained, “I believe if two people care for each other, if they love each other, if they want to commit to each other… then they should be able to get married and marriage should be for everyone”.[120]

Prime Minister

Further information: May ministry

2016 Conservative leadership election

On 30 June 2016, May announced her candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party to replace David Cameron, who resigned after the outcome of the European Union membership referendum. May emphasised the need for unity within the party regardless of positions about leaving the EU and said she could bring “strong leadership” and a “positive vision” for the country’s future. Despite having backed a vote to remain in the EU, she insisted that there would be no second referendum, saying: “The campaign was fought… and the public gave their verdict. There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door…. Brexit means Brexit”, she said, adding that Article 50 (the formal notification of Britain’s exit from the EU) should not be filed until the end of 2016. On the issue of immigration, she agreed that there was a need to regain more control of the numbers of people who come to Britain from Europe. Under questioning she conceded that it would not be possible totally to eliminate immigration to the UK.

In opinion polls May was regarded as the favourite choice among the public; in a Sky Data Snap Poll on 30 June, 47% of people said that May was their preferred Conservative candidate to be prime minister.[121] May’s supporters included a number of Cabinet ministers, such as Amber Rudd, Chris Grayling, Justine Greening, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Fallon andPatrick McLoughlin.[122]

May won the first round of voting on 5 July, receiving support from 165 MPs, while Andrea Leadsom received 66 votes andMichael Gove collected 48. According to The Guardian, May was “almost certain to be among the final two candidates.”[123]After the results were announced, May said she was “pleased” and “grateful” for the support of other MPs and confirmed that she wanted to unite the party and the UK, to negotiate the “best possible deal as we leave the EU”, and to “make Britain work for everyone”.[124] The two candidates with the fewest votes, Liam Fox and Stephen Crabb, immediately announced their support for May.[125] May came in first place in the second ballot on 7 July with an overwhelming majority of 199 MPs against 84 for Leadsom and 46 for Gove, who was eliminated.[126] Afterwards, May stated that she was delighted with her support among MPs, and she progressed to a vote of the Conservative Party membership against Leadsom[127]

On 11 July, Leadsom announced her withdrawal from the leadership contest hours after May had made her first campaign speech, citing her lack of support amongst Conservative MPs as being a hindrance to becoming a credible prime minister.[128] As the sole remaining candidate, May was declared Leader of the Conservative Party that evening.[129][130]Soon after she became Leader of the Conservative Party by default on 11 July 2016, David Cameron announced that he would tender his resignation as prime minister two days later, making May the UK’s second female Prime Minister.

Early days

After being appointed by Queen Elizabeth II on 13 July 2016, May became the United Kingdom’s second female Prime Minister,[131] after Margaret Thatcher, and the first female UK Prime Minister of the 21st century.[132][133] May told the media on 12 July 2016 that she was “honoured and humbled” to be the party leader and to become prime minister.

Responding to some calls for a general election (reported by the news media) to confirm her mandate, “sources close to Mrs May” said there would be no such election, according to the BBC.[134] In a speech after her appointment, May emphasized the term Unionist in the name of the Conservative Party (UK), reminding all of “the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”[135] By 15 July 2016, May had traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland to meet with first minister Nicola Sturgeon, to reinforce the bond between Scotland and the rest of the country. “I’m coming here to show my commitment to preserving this special union that has endured for centuries,” she explained.[136] After the meeting at Bute House, May offered the following comment about Scotland’s role in the negotiations about the UK’s exit from the EU. “I’m willing to listen to options and I’ve been very clear with the first minister today that I want the Scottish government to be fully engaged in our discussion.”[137]

May also appointed new Cabinet members, in “one of the most sweeping government reshuffles for decades”[138] described as “a brutal cull” by The Telegraph since several prominent members, including six of Cameron’s ministers were “sacked” (removed from their posts.)[139] The early appointments were interpreted both as an effort to reunite the Conservative Party in the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, and as “a shift to the right,” according to The Guardian.[140] ITV’s Political Editor Robert Peston made the following comment: “Her rhetoric is more left-wing than Cameron’s was, her cabinet is more right wing than his was.”[141]

Although May had supported remaining in the EU, she appointed prominent advocates of Brexit to key cabinet positions responsible for negotiating the United Kingdom withdrawal from the European Union, including Foreign Secretary, Brexit Secretary, and International Trade Secretary.[142][136] Overall, of the 25 members of the May ministry (including May), seven supported Brexit, while the other 18 supported Remain.[140]

May appointed former Mayor of London Boris Johnson to Foreign Secretary, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd to Home Secretary, and former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis to the newly-created office of “Brexit Secretary.”[143] Liam Fox and Philip Hammond, both of whom had previously served as Secretary of State for Defence (Fox in 2010–11 and Hammond in 2011–14), with Hammond having served as Foreign Secretary in 2014–16, were appointed to the newly-created office of International Trade Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer, respectively.[144][145] Elizabeth Truss was made Justice Secretary, the “first female Lord Chancellor in the thousand-year history of the role”.[146] Andrea Leadsom, who was energy minister and May’s primary competitor for party leader, was made the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.[147] As Downing Street Chief of Staff May appointed jointly Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy on 14 July.[148] Both had been political advisers to her at the Home Office before both working outside the government for a brief period before coming to work on her leadership campaign.[149][150]

May abolished the Department for Energy and Climate Change in a move criticised by Greenpeace which expressed concern the new government failed to see the threat from climate change, by Friends of the Earth which said climate change is happening now while the new government lowers its priority. The move is also widely criticised by other more impartial people and groups.[who?] Climate change is included in the scope of a new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.[151]

Political ideology

May has identified herself with the One Nation Conservative position within her party.[152]

Describing her as a liberal conservative, the Financial Times characterised May as a “non-ideological politician with a ruthless streak who gets on with the job”, in doing so comparing her to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.[153]

In The Independent, Rebecca Glover of the Policy Innovation Research Unit contrasted May to Boris Johnson, claiming that she was “staunchly more conservative, more anti-immigration, and more isolationist” than he.[154]

May supported the UK remaining in the EU during the 2016 referendum campaign, but did not campaign extensively in the referendum and criticised aspects of the EU in a speech.[155][156] It was speculated by political journalists that May had sought to minimise her involvement in the debate to strengthen her position as a future candidate for the Conservative party leadership.[157]

During her leadership campaign, May said that “We need an economy that works for everyone”, pledging to crack down on executive pay by making shareholders’ votes binding rather than advisory and to put workers onto company boards,[158]policies that The Guardian describes as going further than the Labour Party’s 2015 general election manifesto.[159]

After she became Prime Minister, May’s first speech espoused the left, with a promise to combat the “burning injustice” in British society and create a union “between all of our citizens” and promising to be an advocate for the “ordinary working-class family” and not for the affluent in the UK. “The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives. … When we take the big calls, we’ll think not of the powerful, but you. When we pass new laws we’ll listen not to the mighty, but to you. When it comes to taxes we’ll prioritise not the wealthy but you.”[160]

Personal life

May has been married to Philip May, an investment banker currently employed by Capital International, since 6 September 1980; the couple have no children.[161] May has stated her regret that, for health reasons, she has not been able to have children with her husband, saying in one interview that, “You look at families all the time and you see there is something there that you don’t have”.[162][163]

May is a member of the Church of England and regularly worships at church on Sunday.[1][2][164] The daughter of an Anglican priest, Reverend Hubert Brasier, May has said that her Christian faith “is part of me. It is part of who I am and therefore how I approach things”.[165]

May is known for a love of fashion and in particular distinctive shoes, wearing leopard-print shoes at her ‘Nasty Party‘ speech in 2002, as well as her final Cabinet meeting as Home Secretary in 2016. On Desert Island Discs in 2014 she chose a subscription to Vogue as her luxury item.[166] However she has been critical of the media focusing on her fashion instead of her achievements as a politician.[167]

May was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus of type 1 in November 2012. She is treated with daily insulin injections.[168]

Since coming into prominence as a front-bench politician, May’s public image has divided media opinion, especially from some in the traditionalist right-wing press.[169] Commenting on May’s debut as Home Secretary, Anne Perkins of The Guardian observed that “she’ll be nobody’s stooge”,[170] while Cristina Odone of The Daily Telegraph predicted her to be “the rising star” of the Coalition Government.[171] Allegra Stratton, then with The Guardian, praised May as showing managerial acumen.[172]

Her parliamentary expenses have been “modest” in recent years (about £15,000 from 2005 to 2009).[173]

Activism and awards

Prior to and since her appointment to Government, May actively supports a variety of campaigns on policy issues in her constituency and at the national level of politics. She has spoken at the Fawcett Society promoting the cross-party issue of gender equality. May was nominated as one of the Society’s Inspiring Women of 2006.[174]

She is the Patron of Reading University Conservative Association, the largest political student group in Berkshire (the county of her Maidenhead constituency).[175] In February 2013, BBC Radio 4‘s Woman’s Hour described her as Britain’s second-most powerful woman after Queen Elizabeth II.[176]

Titles and honours


Styles of
Theresa May
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Reference style The Prime Minister
Spoken style Prime Minister
Alternative style Mrs May or Ma’am
  • Miss Theresa Brasier (1956–1980)
  • Mrs Philip May (1980–1997)
  • Theresa May MP (1997–2003)
  • The Rt Hon Theresa May MP (2003–present)

Boris Johnson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson FCA.jpg
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Assumed office
13 July 2016
Prime Minister Theresa May
Preceded by Philip Hammond
2nd Mayor of London
In office
4 May 2008 – 9 May 2016
Deputy Richard Barnes
Victoria Borwick
Roger Evans
Preceded by Ken Livingstone
Succeeded by Sadiq Khan
Member of Parliament
for Uxbridge and South Ruislip
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded by John Randall
Majority 10,695 (23.9%)
Member of Parliament
for Henley
In office
9 June 2001 – 4 June 2008
Preceded by Michael Heseltine
Succeeded by John Howell
Personal details
Born Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson
19 June 1964 (age 52)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Allegra Mostyn-Owen (1987–1993)
Marina Wheeler (1993–present)
Children 5
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Religion Anglicanism
Website Commons website

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (born 19 June 1964) is a Britishpolitician, popular historian, author, and journalist. He has been Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs since 13 July 2016 and has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Uxbridge and South Ruislipsince 2015. He had previously served as MP for Henley from 2001 until 2008and as Mayor of London from 2008 until 2016. A member of the Conservative Party, Johnson identifies as a One-Nation Conservative and has been associated with both economically liberal and socially liberal policies.

Born in New York City to wealthy upper-class English parents, Johnson was educated at the European School of Brussels, Ashdown House School, andEton College. He studied Classics at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was elected president of the Oxford Union in 1986. Beginning his career in journalism at The Times, he later became The Daily Telegraphs Brussels correspondent, with his articles exerting a strong influence on growingEurosceptic sentiment among the British right-wing. He was assistant editor from 1994 to 1999 before taking the editorship of The Spectator from 1999 to 2005. Joining the Conservatives, he was elected MP for Henley in 2001, and under Conservative leaders Michael Howard and David Cameron he served in the Shadow Cabinet. Mostly adhering to the Conservative party line, he nevertheless adopted a more socially liberal stance on issues like LGBT rightsin parliamentary votes. Making regular television appearances, writing books, and remaining active in journalism, Johnson became one of the most conspicuous politicians in Britain.

Selected as Conservative candidate for the London mayoral election of 2008, Johnson defeated Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone and resigned his seat in parliament. During his first term as mayor, he banned alcohol consumption on public transport, championed London’s financial sector, and introduced theNew Routemaster buses, cycle hire scheme, and Thames cable-car. In 2012, he was re-elected mayor, again defeating Livingstone; during his second term he oversaw the 2012 Summer Olympics. In 2015 he was elected MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, stepping down as mayor the following year and becoming a prominent figure in the successful Vote Leave campaign towithdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union. In July 2016, Johnson was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by the incoming Prime Minister, Theresa May.

Johnson is a controversial figure in British politics and journalism. Supporters have praised him as an entertaining, humorous, and popular figure with appeal beyond traditional Conservative voters. Conversely, he has been criticised by figures on both the left and right, accused of elitism and cronyism, laziness and dishonesty, and using xenophobic, racist, and homophobic language. Johnson is the subject of several biographies and a number of fictionalised portrayals.

Early life

Childhood: 1964–77

Johnson was born on 19 June 1964 at a hospital on Manhattan‘s Upper East Side in New York City.[1] His birth was registered with both the US authorities and the city’s British Consulate, and he was granted both American and British citizenship.[2] His father, the British Stanley Johnson, was studying economics at Columbia University.[3] Stanley was the grandson of the Turkish journalist Ali Kemal on the paternal side,[4] while on his maternal side he was of mixed English and French descent and was a descendant of King George II of Great Britain.[5] Stanley had married Johnson’s mother,Charlotte Johnson Wahl (née Fawcett),[6] in 1963, before they moved to the USA; she was an artist from a family of liberalintellectuals.[7] She was the granddaughter of Americans Elias Avery Lowe (a palaeographer of Russian Jewish descent)[8]and Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter, a famous translator. In reference to his varied ancestry, Johnson has described himself as a “one-man melting pot”—with a combination of Muslims, Jews, and Christians as great-grandparents.[9] Johnson was given his middle name of “Boris” after a Russian émigré the couple had once met in Mexico.[3]

Johnson’s parents were then living in an apartment opposite the Chelsea Hotel,[10] although they soon embarked on a tour of Canada and New England with their newborn.[11] In September 1964 they returned to Britain, enabling Charlotte to study for a degree at the University of Oxford.[12] She lived with her son in Summertown, Oxford, and gave birth to a daughter,Rachel, in 1965.[11] In July 1965 the family moved to Crouch End in North London;[13] in February 1966 they relocated to Washington D.C., where Stanley had gained a job with the World Bank.[14] A third child, Leo, was born in September 1967, while Charlotte took up the painting for which she would become publicly known.[15] Stanley then gained employment with a policy panel on population control, in June moving the family to Norwalk, Connecticut.[16]

Johnson spent much of his childhood near to Winsford in Exmoor.

In summer 1969, the family returned to the United Kingdom, settling into Stanley’s family farm at Nethercote, near Winsford in Exmoor.[17] At Nethercote, Johnson gained his first experiences with fox hunting.[18]Stanley was regularly absent from Nethercote, leaving Johnson to be raised largely by his mother and au pairs.[19] As a child, Johnson was quiet and studious,[13] although he suffered from severe deafness, resulting in several operations to insert grommets into his ears.[20] He and his siblings were encouraged to engage in high-brow activities from a young age,[21] with high achievement being greatly valued; Johnson’s earliest recorded ambition was to be “world king”.[22] Having few or no friends other than their siblings, the children became very close.[23] In autumn 1969 the family relocated to Maida Vale, North London, where Stanley began post-doctoral research at the London School of Economics.[24] In 1970, Charlotte and the children briefly returned to Nethercote, where Johnson was schooled at the Winsford Village School, before returning to London to settle in Primrose Hill,[25] there being educated at Primrose Hill Primary School.[26] In late 1971 another son, Jo Johnson, was born to the family.[27]

After Stanley secured employment at the European Commission, he moved his family to Brussels in April 1973, where they settled in Uccle and Johnson became fluent in French.[28][29] Charlotte had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalised withclinical depression, with Johnson and his siblings being sent to Ashdown House preparatory boarding school in East Sussex in 1975.[30] There he developed a love of rugby and excelled at Ancient Greek and Latin,[31]; he was appalled at the teachers’ use of corporal punishment.[32] Meanwhile, Stanley and Charlotte’s relationship broke down in December 1978 and they divorced in 1980.[33] Charlotte moved into a flat in Notting Hill, where her children spent much of their time with her.[34]

Eton and Oxford: 1977–87

“As a kid I was extremely spotty, extremely nerdy and horribly swotty. My idea of a really good time was to travel across London on the tube to visit the British Museum.”

— Boris Johnson[35]

Johnson was awarded a King’s Scholarship to study at Eton College, the elite independent boarding school in Eton, Berkshire.[36] Arriving there in the autumn term of 1977,[37] at Eton Johnson began using the given name “Boris” rather than “Alex”, and developed “the eccentric English persona” for which he later became known.[38] He also abandoned his mother’s Catholicism and became an Anglican, joining the Church of England.[39] Although school reports complained about his idleness, complacency, and lateness,[40] he established himself as a popular and well-known figure within the school.[38] His friends were largely from the wealthy upper middle-classes, with his best friends being Darius Guppy and Charles Spencer, both of whom would accompany him to Oxford University and remain friends into adulthood.[41] Johnson excelled in English and Classics, winning prizes in both,[42]became secretary of the school debating society,[43] and then editor of the school newspaper, The Eton College Chronicle.[44] In autumn 1981 he was admitted to the Eton Society, better known as “Pop”.[45] Upon finishing his time at Eton, Johnson went on a gap year to Australia, where he taught English and Latin at Geelong Grammar, an elite independent boarding school.[46]

Johnson read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford.

Johnson won a scholarship to read Literae Humaniores, a four-year course based in the study of Classics, at Balliol College, Oxford.[47]Arriving at Oxford in the autumn of 1983,[48] he was part of a generation of Oxford undergraduates who later dominated British politics and media in the early 21st century, among them senior Conservative Party members David Cameron, William Hague, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, and Nick Boles.[49] At the university he played rugby for Balliol,[50] and associated primarily with Old Etonians, joining the Old Etonian-dominated Bullingdon Club, an upper-class drinking society known for its acts of local vandalism.[51][52] Johnson entered into a relationship with the aristocrat Allegra Mostyn-Owen, and they became engaged while at university.[53]

Johnson became a popular and well-known public figure at Oxford,[54] and with Guppy co-edited its satirical magazineTributary.[55] In 1984 he was elected secretary of the Oxford Union,[56] before campaigning for the position of Union president, losing the election to Neil Sherlock.[57] In 1986 Johnson ran for president again, aided by undergraduate Frank Luntz; his campaign focused on reaching out from his established upper-class support base by emphasising his popular persona and downplaying his connections to the Conservatives.[58] Hoping to court their vote, Johnson associated with university groups affiliated with the centrist Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Liberal Party.[59] Luntz later alleged that Johnson portrayed himself as an SDP supporter during the campaign, although Johnson claims no recollection of this.[59][60]Johnson won the election and was appointed president,[61] although his presidency was not seen as particularly distinguished or memorable,[62] and questions were raised regarding his competency and seriousness.[63] Having specialised in the study of ancient literature and classical philosophy, Johnson graduated from Balliol College with an upper second-class degree,[64][65] but was deeply unhappy that he did not receive a first.[66]

Early career

The Times and The Daily Telegraph: 1987–94

“I saw the whole [European Union] change. It was a wonderful time to be there. The Berlin Wall fell and the French and Germans had to decide how they were going to respond to this event, and what was Europe going to become, and there was this fantastic pressure to create a single polity, to create an answer to the historic German problem, and this produced the most fantastic strains in the Conservative Party, so everything I wrote from Brussels, I found was sort of chucking these rocks over the garden wall and I listened to this amazing crash from the greenhouse next door over in England as everything I wrote from Brussels was having this amazing, explosive effect on the Tory party, and it really gave me this I suppose rather weird sense of power.”

Boris Johnson[67]

Johnson and Mostyn-Owen married in West Felton, Shropshire, in September 1987; a violin piece was specially commissioned for the wedding from Hans Werner Henze.[68] The couple honeymooned in Egypt before settling into a flat in West Kensington, West London.[69]There, Johnson secured work for a management consultancycompany, L.E.K. Consulting; finding it incredibly boring, he resigned after a week.[70] Through family connections, in late 1987 he began work as a graduate trainee at The Times, shadowing one of its journalists.[71] Scandal erupted when Johnson wrote an article on thearchaeological discovery of Edward II‘s palace for the newspaper. Johnson invented a quote for the article that he falsely claimed came from the historian Colin Lucas, his own godfather. After The Timeseditor Charles Wilson learned of the deception, Johnson was sacked.[72][73]

Johnson secured employment on the leader writing desk of The Daily Telegraph, having known its editor, Max Hastings, through his OU presidency.[74] His articles were designed to appeal to the newspaper’s conservative, middle-class and middle-aged ‘Middle England‘ readership,[75] and were known for their unique literary style, replete with old-fashioned words and phrases, and for regularly referring to the readership as “my friends”.[76]In spring 1989, Johnson was appointed to the newspaper’s Brussels bureau to report on the European Commission.[77] A strong critic of Commission President Jacques Delors, he established himself as one of the few Eurosceptic journalists in the city.[78] Many of his fellow journalists based in the city were critical of his articles, opining that they often contained untruths designed to discredit the Commission,[79] with The Guardians John Palmer stating that “as a journalist he is thoroughly irresponsible, making up stories.”[80]

Johnson biographer Andrew Gimson believed that these articles made Johnson “one of [Euroscepticism’s] most famous exponents”,[67] while according to fellow biographer Sonia Purnell, he helped to make Euroscepticism “an attractive and emotionally resonant cause for the Right”, whereas previously it had been associated with the British Left.[81] Johnson’s articles established him as the favourite journalist of the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher,[82] although Thatcher’s successor John Major was annoyed by Johnson and spent much time attempting to refute his claims.[83]Johnson’s articles exacerbated tensions between the Eurosceptic and Europhile factions of the Conservative Party, and it was these tensions which were widely viewed as a contributing factor to the party’s failure in the 1997 general election; as a result Johnson earned the mistrust of many party members.[84] His writings were also a key influence on the emergence of the right-wing Eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the early 1990s.[81]

In February 1990, Allegra left Johnson and returned to London; after several attempts to reconcile, they divorced in April 1993.[85] He had entered a relationship with a childhood friend, Marina Wheeler, who had moved to Brussels in 1990.[86] In May 1993, they married at Horsham, Sussex,[87] and gave birth to a daughter soon after.[88] Johnson and his wife settled inIslington, North London,[89] an area known for its left-liberal intelligentsia. Under the influence of this milieu and his new wife, Johnson moved in a more liberal direction on issues like climate change, LGBT rights, and race relations.[90] It was here that the couple had three further children, all of whom were given the joint surname of Johnson-Wheeler.[91] The children were sent to the local Canonbury Primary School and then private secondary schools.[92] Devoting much time to his children, he authored a book of verse, Perils of the Pushy Parents – A Cautionary Tale, which was published to largely poor reviews.[93]

Political columnist: 1994–99

Back in London, Hastings turned down Johnson’s request to become a war reporter,[94] instead promoting him to the position of assistant editor and chief political columnist.[95] Johnson’s column received praise for being ideologically eclectic and uniquely written, and earned him a Commentator of the Year Award at the What the Papers Say awards.[96] However, it was also accused of bigotry; in a 2002 column he used the words “piccannies“, and “watermelon smiles” when referring to Africans, and championed European colonialism in Uganda,[97][98][99] while in another he referred to gay men as “tank-topped bumboys”.[100]

Conservative Prime Minister John Major disliked Johnson and considered vetoing his candidacy as a Conservative candidate

Contemplating a political career, in 1993 Johnson outlined his desire to stand as a Conservative candidate to be a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in the 1994 European Parliament elections. Although Major considered vetoing Johnson’s candidacy, Andrew Mitchell convinced him not to; nevertheless Johnson found it impossible to find a constituency and did not stand in that election.[101] He subsequently turned his attention to obtaining a seat in the UK House of Commons, and after being rejected as Conservative candidate for Holborn and St. Pancras he was selected as the party’s candidate for Clwyd South in North Wales, a Labour Party safe seat. Spending six weeks campaigning, he attained 9,091 votes (23%) in the 1997 general election, losing to the Labour candidate.[102]

Scandal erupted in June 1995 when a recording of a 1990 telephone conversation between Johnson and his friend Guppy was made public.[103] In the conversation, Guppy revealed that his criminal activities were being investigated by News of the World journalist Stuart Collier, and he asked Johnson to provide him with Collier’s private address, seeking to have the latter beaten up. Johnson agreed to supply the information although expressed concern that he would be associated with the attack.[103] When the phone conversation was published in 1995, Johnson insisted that he did not ultimately give the information to Guppy; Hastings reprimanded Johnson’s behaviour but did not sack him.[103]

Johnson was given a regular column in The Spectator, The Daily Telegraph‘s sister publication; it attracted mixed reviews, and was often thought rushed.[104] In 1999, he was also given a column on new cars in the magazine GQ.[105] His behaviour regularly annoyed his editors; those at GQ were frustrated by the large number of parking fines that Johnson acquired while testing cars for them,[100] while he was consistently late in providing his columns for The Telegraph and The Spectator, forcing many staff to stay late to accommodate him; they related that if they went ahead and published without his work included, he would get angry and shout at them with expletives.[106]

Johnson’s appearance on an April 1998 episode of Have I Got News for You brought him to a far wider audience; emphasising a bumbling upper-class persona, he was viewed as entertaining and invited back on to later episodes, including as a guest presenter.[107] After these, he came to be recognised on the street by the public, and was invited to appear on other television shows, such as Top Gear, Parkinson, Breakfast with Frost, and Question Time.[108]

The Spectator and MP for Henley: 1999–2008

“The selection of Boris Johnson… confirms the Tory Party’s increasing weakness for celebrity personalities over the dreary exigencies of politics. Johnson, for all his gifts, is unlikely to grace any future Tory cabinet. Indeed, he is not known for his excessive interest in serious policy matters, and it is hard to see him grubbing away at administrative detail as an obscure, hardworking junior minister for social security. To maintain his funny man reputation he will no doubt find himself refining his Bertie Wooster interpretation to the point where the impersonation becomes the man.”

Max Hastings, Evening Standard[109]

In July 1999, Conrad Black — proprietor of The Daily Telegraph andThe Spectator — offered Johnson the editorship of the latter on the condition that he abandoned his parliamentary aspirations; Johnson agreed.[110] He brought in contributions from figures whom he had known from his past,[111] and while retaining The Spectators traditional right-wing bent, he also welcomed contributions from leftist writers and cartoonists.[112] Under Johnson’s editorship, the circulation of The Spectator grew by 10% to 62,000 and it began to turn a profit.[113] His editorship also drew criticism; some opined that under his leadership The Spectator avoided covering serious issues and focused on trivial topics,[114] while colleagues became annoyed that he was regularly absent from the office and often missed meetings and events.[115] He gained a reputation as a poor political pundit for incorrect political predictions that he made in the magazine,[114] and was also strongly criticised — including by his father-in-law Charles Wheeler — for allowingSpectator columnist Taki Theodoracopulos to publish racist and anti-Semitic language in the magazine.[116]

Following the retirement of Michael Heseltine, Johnson decided to stand as the Conservative candidate for Henley, a Conservative safe seat in Oxfordshire.[117] The local Conservative branch were split over Johnson’s candidacy; some found him amusing and charming, while others were critical of his flippant attitude to serious matters and his lack of knowledge about the local area, although he was nevertheless selected.[118] Boosted by his television fame, Johnson stood as the Conservative candidate for the constituency in the 2001 general election, winning with a majority of 8,500 votes.[119]Alongside his main Islington home, Johnson purchased a farmhouse outside Thame in his new constituency.[120] He regularly attended Henley social events and wrote an occasional column for the Henley Standard.[121] His constituency surgeries proved popular, and he involved himself in local campaigns to save Townlands Hospital and the local air ambulance from closure, as well as to keep Brakspear as an independent brewer.[122]

In becoming a Member of Parliament, Johnson broke his promise to Black that he would not do so while editing The Spectator. Although labelling Johnson as “ineffably duplicitous”, Black did not sack him, viewing him as “a capable editor” who “helped promote the magazine and raise its circulation”.[123] In Parliament, Johnson was appointed to serve on astanding committee assessing the Proceeds of Crime Bill, although missed many of its meetings.[124] Despite his credentials as a public speaker, his speeches in the House of Commons were widely deemed lacklustre and lacking in passion, with Johnson later admitting that they were “crap”.[125] In his first four years as MP for Henley he attended just over half of the votes in the House of Commons, although by his second term this had declined to 45%.[126] In most cases he supported the Conservative party line, only rebelling against it five times during this period, when he adopted a more socially liberal attitude than the mainstream party; he for instance voted to repeal Section 28 and supported the Gender Recognition Act 2004.[127] Although initially claiming that he would not do so, he voted in support of the government’s plans to join the US in the 2003 invasion of Iraq,[120] and in April 2003 visited occupied Baghdad.[128] By December 2006 he was publicly regretting his decision, describing the invasion as “a colossal mistake and misadventure”.[129]

In the period 2001–08, Johnson represented the constituency of Henley in the House of Commons.

Alongside his full-time job as an MP, he continued editing The Spectator, writing columns for The Daily Telegraph and GQ, and making television appearances.[130] He also published a book, Friends, Voters, Countrymen: Jottings on the Stump, which recounted his experiences with the 2001 election campaign.[131] His next publication was 2003’s Lend Me Your Ears, a collection of previously published columns and articles.[132] In 2004 this was followed by his first novel,Seventy-Two Virgins: A Comedy of Errors, which revolved around the life of a Conservative MP and contained various biographical elements.[133] Responding to critics who argued that he was juggling too many positions, he cited prominent Conservative politiciansWinston Churchill and Benjamin Disraeli as exemplars who combined their political and writing careers.[134] To manage the stress he took up jogging and cycling,[135] and became so well known for the latter that Gimson suggested that he was “perhaps the most famous cyclist in Britain”.[136]

Following William Hague‘s resignation as Conservative leader, Johnson used The Spectator to support the candidacy of the only pro-EU figure, Kenneth Clarke. Johnson argued that Clarke was the only candidate capable of winning a general election, however Iain Duncan Smith was selected.[137] Johnson had a strained relationship with Duncan Smith, with The Spectator becoming very critical of the latter’s party leadership.[138] Duncan Smith was removed from his position in November 2003 and replaced by Michael Howard; Howard deemed Johnson to be the most popular Conservative politician with the electorate and appointed him vice-chairman of the party, responsible for overseeing their electoral campaign.[139] In his shadow cabinet reshuffle of May 2004, Howard appointed Johnson to the position of shadow arts minister.[140] In October 2004 Howard ordered Johnson to go to Liverpool and issue a public apology for an article anonymously authored by Simon Heffer that Johnson had published in The Spectator; in the article, Heffer claimed that the crowds at theHillsborough disaster had contributed towards the incident and that Liverpool had a predilection for reliance on the welfare state.[141][142]

In November 2004, the British tabloids revealed that since 2000, Johnson had been having an affair with Spectatorcolumnist Petronella Wyatt, resulting in two terminated pregnancies. Johnson initially dismissed the claims as “piffle”.[143]After the allegations were proven, Howard asked Johnson to resign from his position as vice-chairman and shadow arts minister, not because of the affair but because he had publicly lied about it. Johnson refused, at which Howard sacked him from those positions.[144][145] The scandal was satirised by The Spectators theatre critics Toby Young and Lloyd Evans in a play, Who’s the Daddy?, performed at Islington’s King’s Head Theatre in July 2005; the play upset Johnson.[146] In April 2006, the News of the World alleged that Johnson was having an affair with the journalist Anna Fazackerley; both Fazackerley and Johnson refused to comment although the former stepped down from her job and was subsequently employed by Johnson.[147][148] That month, he attracted further public attention for taking part in a charity football match between former professional footballers and celebrities from England and Germany, in which he rugby tackled Maurizio Gaudino.[149] In September 2006 his comparison between the frequently changing leadership of the Conservatives tocannibalism in Papua New Guinea drew criticism from the latter country’s high commission.[150]

Johnson backed David Cameron for the position of Conservative leader.

In the 2005 general election, Johnson was re-elected MP for Henley, increasing his majority to 12,793.[151] Following Labour’s victory in the election, Howard stood down as Conservative leader, with Johnson backing David Cameron as his successor.[152] After being successfully selected, Cameron appointed Johnson as the shadow higher education minister, acknowledging his popularity among students.[153] Johnson’s main interest was in streamlining university funding,[154] as part of which he supported Labour’s proposed top-up fees.[155] In September 2006, his image was used in ‘Boris needs you’ and ‘I Love Boris’ material to promote the Conservative Party’s image during Freshers’ Week in universities.[156] In 2006 Johnson campaigned to become Rector of Edinburgh University, but his support for top-up fees damaged his campaign and he ultimately came third, losing to Mark Ballard.[157][158]

In 2005, The Spectators new chief executive, Andrew Neil, removed Johnson from the editorship of the magazine.[159] With his reduction of earnings, Johnson convinced The Daily Telegraph to raise his annual fee from £200,000 to £250,000, averaging at £5,000 per column, each of which took up around an hour and a half of his time.[160][161] He presented apopular history television show, The Dream of Rome, for Tiger Aspect; the show was broadcast in January 2006 and a book followed in February.[162] Through his own production company, he then produced a sequel, After Rome, which focused on early Islamic history.[163] As a result of his various activities, in 2007 he earned £540,000, making him the UK’s third highest earning MP that year.[164]

Mayor of London

Mayoral election: 2008

In March 2007, Johnson suggested that he stand for the position of Mayor of London in the 2008 mayoral election.[165] His candidacy was not initially taken seriously within the Conservative Party, who favoured Nick Boles as its candidate.[166]However, after Boles withdrew, Johnson gained the support of Cameron,[167] as well as the London Evening Standardnewspaper.[27] In July, he officially announced his candidacy,[168][169] and was selected as Conservative candidate in September after gaining 79% of the vote in a public London-wide primary.[170][171] The Conservatives hired election strategist Lynton Crosby to run Johnson’s campaign,[172] which was primarily funded by sympathetic individuals in London’s financial sector.[173] Johnson’s campaign focused on reducing youth crime, making public transport safer, and replacing the ‘bendy buses‘ with a new fleet of Routemasters.[174] It also targeted the Conservative-leaning suburbs on outer London, hoping to capitalise on a perception that they had been overlooked by a Labour Mayoralty that had paid more attention toinner London.[175] His campaign capitalised on his popularity, even among those who opposed his policies,[176] with opponents complaining that a common attitude among voters was that “I’m voting for Boris because he is a laugh”.[174]

Johnson pledged to introduce newRoutemaster-derived buses to replacethe city’s fleet of articulated buses if elected Mayor

Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone took Johnson seriously, referring to him as “the most formidable opponent I will face in my political career.”[177] Livingstone’s campaign portrayed Johnson as both an out-of-touch toff and a bigot, as evidenced by racist and homophobic language that he had used in his column; Johnson responded that these quotes had been taken out of context and were meant assatire.[178] Johnson insisted that he was not a bigot, declaring that “I’m absolutely 100% anti-racist; I despise and loath racism”.[179] Publicly emphasising his Turkish ancestry,[180] he went contrary to Conservative policy by declaring his support for an earned amnesty for illegal immigrants.[181] However, the allegations were exacerbated when the far right British National Party (BNP) urged its supporters to give their second preference votes to Johnson; he responded by “utterly and unreservedly” condemning the BNP.[182][183] Controversy was also generated when during the campaign Johnson admitted that as a student he had used cannabis andcocaine.[184]

The election took place in May 2008, and witnessed a turnout of approximately 45% of eligible voters, with Johnson receiving 43.2% and Livingstone 37% of first-preference votes; when second-preference votes were added, Johnson proved victorious with 53.2% to Livingstone’s 46.8%.[185][186] Johnson benefited from a large voter turnout in Conservative strongholds, in particular Bexley and Bromley.[187] Johnson thus won the largest personal electoral mandate in the UK.[188]Following his victory, he praised Livingstone as a “very considerable public servant” and added that he hoped to “discover a way in which the mayoralty can continue to benefit from your transparent love of London”.[186] He also announced that, as a result of his victory, he would resign as Member of Parliament for Henley,[189][190] generating some anger from Henley party members and constituents who felt that Johnson was abandoning them for London.[191]

First term: 2008–12

Johnson giving a victory speech inCity Hall after being elected Mayor of London

Settling into the Mayoral offices at City Hall,[192] Johnson’s first official engagement was an appearance at the Sikh celebrations for Vaisakhi in Trafalgar Square.[193]His first policy initiative, issued that month, was a ban on drinking alcohol on public transport.[194][195] He received criticism during the early weeks of his administration, largely because he was late to two official functions in his first week on the job, and because after three weeks he embarked on a holiday to Turkey.[196] In July 2008 Johnson visited the closing ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, there offending his Chinese hosts with his attire.[197] Rather than bringing a team of assistants with him to the job as Livingstone had done, Johnson built his team over the following six months.[198] Those in City Hall who were deemed too closely allied to Livingstone’s administration had their employment terminated.[196] Johnson appointed Tim Parker to be first deputy mayor, but after Parker began taking increasing control at City Hall and insisted that all staff report directly to him, Johnson sacked him.[199] As a result of these problems, many in the Conservative Party initially distanced themselves from Johnson’s administration, fearing that it would be counter-productive to achieving a Conservative victory in the 2010 general election.[200]

During the electoral campaign, Johnson had confided to Brian Paddick that he was unsure how he would retain his current lifestyle while relying upon the Mayoral salary of £140,000 a year.[201] Dealing with this problem, he agreed to continue hisTelegraph column alongside his Mayoral job, thus earning a further £250,000 a year.[202] His team believed that this would cause controversy, and made him promise to donate a fifth of his Telegraph fee to a charitable cause providing bursaries for students. Johnson resented this, and ultimately did not pay a full fifth.[203] Controversy erupted when he was questioned about his Telegraph fee on BBC‘s HARDtalk; here, he referred to the £250,000 as “chicken feed”, something that was widely condemned given that this was roughly ten times the average yearly wage for a British worker.[204][205][206]

The New Routemaster bus introduced by Johnson’s administration

Johnson made no major changes to the mayoral system as developed by Livingstone.[207] He did however reverse a number of measures implemented by Livingstone’s administration, ending the city’s oil deal with Venezuela, abolishingThe Londoner newsletter, and scrapping the half yearly inspections of black cabs, although the latter were reinstated three years later.[208] Abolishing the western wing of the congestion charging zone,[209] he cancelled plans to increase the congestion charge for four-wheel drives.[210] He retained Livingstone projects like Crossrail and the 2012 Olympic Games, although was accused of trying to take credit for them.[211] He introduced a public bicycle scheme which had been mooted by Livingstone’s administration; colloquially known as “Boris Bikes“, the partly privately financed system cost £140 million and was a significant financial loss although proved popular.[212][213] Despite Johnson’s support of cycling in London – and his much publicised identity as a cyclist himself – his administration was criticised by some cycling groups who argued that he had failed to make the city’s roads safer for cyclists.[214] As per his election pledge, he also commissioned the development of the New Routemaster buses for central London.[215] He also ordered the construction of a cable-car system that crossed the River Thames betweenGreenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks.[216] At the beginning of his tenure as Mayor, Johnson announced plans to extend Pay As You Go Oyster card to national rail services in London[217] One of the pledges in Johnson’s election manifesto was to retain Tube ticket offices, in opposition to Livingstone’s proposal to close up to 40 London Underground ticket offices.[218] On 2 July 2008 the Mayor’s office announced that the closure plan was to be abandoned and that offices would remain open.[219] On 21 November 2013, Transport for London announced that all London Underground ticket offices would close by 2015.[220] In financing these projects, Johnson’s administration borrowed £100 million,[221] while public transport fares were increased by 50%.[222]

Johnson assumed control at City Hall on 4 May 2008. He appointed Richard Barnes as his Deputy Mayor on 6 May 2008, as well as appointing the following to newly devolved offices; Ian Clement as Deputy Mayor for Government Relations, Kit Malthouse as Deputy Mayor for Policing and Ray Lewis as Deputy Mayor for Young People.[223] The Mayor also appointedMunira Mirza as his cultural adviser and Nick Boles, the founder of Policy Exchange, as Chief of Staff.[224] Sir Simon Miltonbecame Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning, as well as Chief of Staff.[223] Political opponents questioned Johnson’s judgement when Ray Lewis resigned on 4 July 2008, shortly after taking up his post, following allegations of financial misconduct during his prior career as a Church of England priest and inappropriate behaviour in respect of a false claim to have been appointed as a magistrate.[225]

Johnson implemented Livingstone’s idea of a public bicycle system; the result was dubbed the “Boris Bike”.

During the first term of his mayoralty, Johnson was perceived as having moved leftward on certain issues, for instance by supporting the London Living Wage and the idea of an amnesty for illegal migrants.[226] He tried placating critics who had deemed him a bigot by appearing at London’s gay pride parade and praising ethnic minority newspapers.[227] In 2012 he banned London buses from displaying the adverts of Core Issues Trust, a Christian group, which compared being gay to an illness.[228] In August 2008, Johnson broke from the traditional procedure of those in public office not publicly commenting on other nations’ elections by endorsingBarack Obama for the presidency of the United States.[229][230]

Johnson appointed himself Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), and in October 2008 successfully pushed for the resignation of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair after the latter was criticised for allegedly handing contracts to friends and for his handling of the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.[231][232][233] This earned Johnson great respect among Conservatives, who interpreted it as his first act of strength and assertiveness.[234] Although resigning as MPA Chairman in January 2010,[226] throughout his mayoralty Johnson was highly supportive of the Metropolitan Police, particularly during the controversy surrounding the death of Ian Tomlinson.[235] Overall crime in London fell during his administration, although his claim that serious youth crime had decreased was shown to be false, as it had increased.[236][237] Similarly, his claim that Metropolitan Police numbers had increased was also shown to be incorrect, as the city’s police force had decreased in size under his administration, in line with the rest of the country.[236] He was also criticised for his response to the 2011 London riots; holidaying with his family in British Columbia when the rioting broke out, he did not immediately return to London, only returning 48 hours after it had begun and addressing Londoners 60 hours after. Upon visiting shopkeepers and residents affected by the riots in Clapham, he was booed and jeered away by some elements within the crowds.[238]

Johnson’s response to the 2011 London riots was criticised

Johnson championed London’s financial sector and denounced what he saw as “banker bashing” following the financial crisis of 2007–08,[239] condemning the anti-capitalist Occupy London movement that appeared in 2011.[240] He spent much time with those involved in the financial services, and criticised the government’s 50p tax rate for higher earners.[241] He collected donations from the city’s wealthy for a charitable enterprise, the Mayor’s Fund, which he had established to aid disadvantaged youths; although initially announcing that it would raise £100 million, by 2010 it had only spent £1.5 million.[242] He also retained extensive personal contacts throughout the British media,[243] which resulted in widespread favourable press coverage of his administration.[243] In turn he remained largely supportive of his friends in the media, among them Rupert Murdoch, during the News International phone hacking scandal.[244]

The formation of the Forensic Audit Panel was announced on 8 May 2008. The Panel is tasked with monitoring and investigating financial management at the London Development Agency and the Greater London Authority.[245] Johnson’s announcement was criticised by Labour for the perceived politicisation of this nominally independent panel, who asked if the appointment of these key Johnson allies to the panel – “to dig dirt on Ken Livingstone” – was “an appropriate use of public funds”.[246] Wheatcroft is married to a Conservative councillor[247] and three of the four remaining panel members also have close links to the Conservatives: Stephen Greenhalgh (Conservative Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council),[248]Patrick Frederick (Chairman of Conservative Business Relations for South East England and Southern London) and Edward Lister (Conservative Leader of Wandsworth Council).[249]

Johnson in 2009

During his first administration, Johnson was embroiled in several personal scandals. After moving to a new house in Islington, he built a shed on his balcony without obtaining planning permission; after neighbours complained, he dismantled the shed.[250] The press also accused him of having an affair with Helen Macintyre and of fathering her child, allegations that he did not deny.[251][252][253][254] Controversy was generated when Johnson was accused of warning the MP Damian Green that police were planning to arrest him; Johnson denied the claims and did not face criminal charges under the Criminal Justice Act.[255] He was accused ofcronyism,[256] in particular for appointing Veronica Wadley, a former Evening Standard editor who had supported him, as the chair of London’s Arts Council when she was widely regarded as not being the best candidate for the position.[257][258][259] He was caught up in the parliamentary expenses scandal and accused of excessive personal spending on taxi journeys, with his deputy mayor Ian Clement having been found to have misused a City Hall credit card, resulting in his resignation.[260] Johnson remained a popular figure in London with a strong celebrity status.[261] In 2009, he rescued a woman, Franny Armstrong, from anti-social teenagers who had threatened her while he was cycling past.[262][263][264]

Up for re-election in 2012, Johnson again hired Crosby to orchestrate his campaign.[265] Before the election, Johnson published Johnson’s Life of London, a work of popular history which the historian A. N. Wilson characterised as a “coded plea” for votes.[266] Polls suggested that while Livingstone’s approach to transport was preferred, voters in London placed greater trust in Johnson over issues of crime and the economy.[267] During the 2012 Mayoral election, Johnson sought re-election, while Livingstone was again selected as the Labour candidate. Johnson’s campaign emphasised the accusation that Livingstone was guilty of tax evasion, for which Livingstone called Johnson a “bare-faced liar”.[268] The political scientist Andrew Crines believed that Livingstone’s campaign focused on criticising Johnson rather than presenting an alternate and progressive vision of London’s future.[269] In 2012, he was re-elected as Mayor, again defeating Livingstone.[270]

Johnson at the 2012 Olympics

Second term: 2012–16

London was successful in its bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics while Ken Livingstone was still Mayor in 2005. Johnson’s role in the proceedings was to be the co-chair of an Olympic board which oversaw the Games.[271] Two of his actions subsequent to taking on this role were to improve the transport around London by making more tickets available and laying on more buses around the capital during the busy period, when thousands of spectators were temporary visitors in London,[272][273] and also to allow shops and supermarkets to have longer opening hours on Sundays.[274]

In November 2013, Johnson announced major changes to the operation of London Underground, including the extension of Tube operating hours to run through the night at weekends. The announcement also revealed that all staffed Underground ticket offices would be closed with the aim of saving over £40 million a year, with automated ticketing systems provided instead.[275][276]

Johnson opening a new sixth form centre at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School, 2016

In February 2012 he criticised London’s Saint Patrick’s Day gala dinner celebrations, linking them to Sinn Féin and branding the event “Lefty crap”,[277] for which he later apologised.[278]

In February 2013, during a London Assembly meeting following the publication of the 2014 budget for London, Johnson was ejected from the meeting following a vote and on the grounds that his Deputy Victoria Borwick had left the chamber. Upon realising that the vote meant that he would not be questioned on the budget, Johnson referred to his political opponents as “great supine protoplasmic invertebrate jellies”.[279]

Johnson attended the launch of the World Islamic Economic Forum in London in July 2013, where he answered questions alongside Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. He joked that Malaysian women attended university in order to find husbands, causing some offence among female attendees.[280][281]

In 2014, Johnson pushed his biography of Churchill, The Churchill Factor, with media emphasising how Johnson repeatedly compared himself to Churchill throughout.[282]

In 2016, three German-made water cannon, which he had bought for the Metropolitan Police without waiting for clearance for use by Theresa May, were sold by his successor, with the funds going to youth services.[283]

Return to Parliament

‘Brexit’ campaign: 2015–16

Johnson initially denied that he would return to the House of Commons while remaining Mayor.[261] However, after much media speculation, in August 2014 he sought selection as the Conservative candidate for the safe seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip at the 2015 general election,[284] being selected as the party’s candidate in September.[285][286] The United Kingdom general election, 2015 took place on 7 May and Johnson was elected. There was much speculation that he had returned to Parliament because he wanted to replace Cameron as Conservative leader and Prime Minister.[287]

Johnson became the centre of media interest in early 2016 when he refused to clarify his support for Brexit. In February 2016 he endorsed Vote Leave in the “Out” campaign for the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016.[288] He labelled Cameron’s fears on the matter as “greatly over exaggerated”. Following this announcement, which was interpreted by financial markets as making Brexit more probable, the pound sterling slumped by nearly 2% to its lowest level since March 2009.[289] When Obama urged the UK to remain in the EU, Johnson alleged that the President was motivated by anti-British sentiment caused by his Kenyan ancestry.[290] The comments were condemned as racist and unacceptable by several Labour and Liberal Democratic politicians,[291][292] and a King’s College London student society revoked a speaking invitation to him on the basis of it.[293] Conversely, his comments were defended by both UKIP leaderNigel Farage and the Conservative Iain Duncan Smith.[291][294][295][296]

Michael Gove’s decision to run for the Conservative leadership was widely credited with undermining Johnson’s hopes for the leadership.

Following the success of the “Leave” campaign in the referendum, Cameron announced his resignation, and Johnson was widely regarded as the front-runner inthe election of his replacement, both as Conservative leader and as Prime Minister.[297][298] In what was anticipated to be the launch of his leadership campaign, Johnson declared he would not campaign for leader, as he did not believe he could provide the necessary unity or leadership for the party.[299] This followed the surprise launch of a leadership campaign by Michael Gove, previously seen as a key ally of the Johnson campaign, who said (earlier that morning) that he had reluctantly come to the conclusion that Johnson “cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.”[300][301][302] The Telegraph stated that Gove’s actions in undermining Johnson’s leadership aspirations constituted “the most spectacular political assassination in a generation.”[303] Meanwhile, Michael Heseltine stated that Johnson had “ripped apart” the Conservative Party and that “He’s created the greatest constitutional crisis of modern times. He knocked billions off the value of the nation’s savings”.[304] Johnson then endorsed Andrea Leadsom as a candidate for the Conservative leadership, but she dropped out of the race a week later.[305]

Foreign Secretary: 2016–

Following Theresa May‘s victory in the leadership contest and subsequent appointment as Prime Minister, Johnson was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 13 July 2016.[306] Johnson’s appointment was criticized by some journalists and foreign politicians due to his history of controversial statements about other countries and their leaders.[307][308][309] Former Prime Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt said “I wish it was a joke”, and France’s foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault stated: “I am not at all worried about Boris Johnson, but … during the campaign he lied a lot to the British people and now it is he who has his back against the wall.”[310] Conversely, former Prime Minister of AustraliaTony Abbott welcomed the appointment and called him “a friend of Australia”.[309] A senior official in the Obama administration suggested that the appointment of Johnson would push the United States further towards ties with Germanyat the expense of the special relationship with the United Kingdom.[311]

Several analysts described the appointment as a possible tactic by May to weaken her leadership rival Johnson politically: the new positions of “Brexit Secretary” and International Trade Secretary leave the Foreign Secretary as a figurehead with few powers,[306][312] and the appointment would ensure that Johnson would often be out of the country and unable to organize a rebel coalition, while also forcing him to take responsibility for any problems caused by withdrawal from the EU.[313][314][315]

Political ideology

Ideologically, Johnson has described himself as a “One-Nation Tory[316][317] and a “very moderate liberal conservative“.[318]Academic Tony Travers of the London School of Economics described Johnson as “a fairly classic—that is, small-state—mildly eurosceptic Conservative” who like his contemporaries Cameron and Osborne also embraced “modern social liberalism”.[319] The Guardian agreed that while Mayor, Johnson had blended economic and social liberalism,[320] with The Economist claiming that in doing so Johnson “transcends his Tory identity” and adopts a more libertarian perspective.[321]Stuart Reid, Johnson’s colleague at The Spectator, described the latter’s views as being those of a “liberal libertarian”.[322]Johnson’s biographer and friend Andrew Gimson noted that while “in economic and social matters, [Johnson] is a genuine liberal”, he retains a “Tory element” to his personality through his “love of existing institutions, and a recognition of the inevitability of hierarchy”.[323]

“[I am] free-market, tolerant, broadly libertarian (though perhaps not ultra-libertarian), inclined to see the merit of traditions, anti-regulation, pro-immigrant, pro-standing on your own two feet, pro-alcohol, pro-hunting, pro-motorist and ready to defend to the death the right ofGlenn Hoddle to believe in reincarnation.”

Boris Johnson[124]

Stuart Wilks-Heeg, executive director of Democratic Audit, noted that “Boris is politically nimble”,[319] while biographer Sonia Purnell stated that Johnson regularly changed his opinion on political issues, commenting on what she perceived to be “an ideological emptiness beneath the staunch Tory exterior.”[324] She later referred to his “opportunistic—some might say pragmatic—approach to politics”.[325]Former Mayor Ken Livingstone claimed in an interview with the New Statesman that while he had once feared Johnson as “the most hardline right-wing ideologue since Thatcher”, over the course of Johnson’s mayoralty he had instead concluded that he was “a fairly lazy tosser who just wants to be there” while doing very little work.[326] He has sometimes been described as a “populist[327][328][329] and a “nationalist“.[330]

Although Johnson became widely known for his strongly Eurosceptic articles in The Daily Telegraph, many of his close associates have believed this to be an opportunistic ruse, expressing the view that he is not a genuine Eurosceptic, with some suggesting that he might be sympathetic to the cause of European federalism.[331] He welcomed Turkey’s entry into the EU in 2012.[clarification needed][332] Highlighting these claims, Purnell stated that he is “neither truly anti-European nor aLittle Englander“.[333]

Purnell has noted that Johnson “is nothing if not an elitist”,[334] and in an article titled “Long Live Elitism” he stated that “without elites and elitism man would still be in his caves.”[335] Purnell believed that it was the influence of Johnson’s maternal family, the left-wing Fawcetts, that led to him developing “a genuine abhorrence of racial discrimination”.[336]

Public image

Johnson on a demonstration against hospital closures with Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming (left) and Conservative MP Graham Stuart(centre) on 28 March 2006

Widely known simply as “Boris”,[337] Johnson has attracted a variety of nicknames, including “BoJo”, a portmanteau of his forename and surname.[338] Biographer Sonia Purnell described his public persona as “brand Boris”, noting that he developed it while at Oxford University.[339] Max Hastings referred to this public image as a “façade resembling that of P. G. Wodehouse‘s Gussie Fink-Nottle, allied to wit, charm, brilliance and startling flashes of instability”,[340] while political scientist Andrew Crines stated that Johnson had created “the character of a likable and trustworthy individual with strong intellectual capital”.[341] Private Eye editor Ian Hislop has defined him as “Beano Boris” due to his perceived comical nature, saying: “He’s our Berlusconi … He’s the only feel-good politician we have, everyone else is too busy being responsible.”[342]

Johnson purposely cultivates a “semi-shambolic look”,[343] for instance by specifically ruffling his hair in a certain way for when he makes public appearances.[344] Purnell described him as “a manic self-promoter” who filled his life with “fun and jokes”.[345] Described by Crines as “a joker”,[341] Johnson has stated that “humour is a utensil that you can use to sugar the pill and to get important points across.”[345] Purnell noted that colleagues of his regularly expressed the view that he used people to advance his own interests,[346] with Gimson noting that he was “one of the great flatterers of our times”.[347]Purnell noted that he deflected serious questions using “a little humour and a good deal of bravado”.[348] According to Gimson, Johnson was “a humane man” who “could also be staggeringly inconsiderate of others” when focusing upon his own interests.[349] Gimson also noted that Johnson has “an excessive desire to be liked”.[350]

According to Purnell, “[Johnson] is blessed with immense charisma, wit, sex appeal and celebrity gold dust; he is also recognised and loved by millions—although perhaps less so by many who have had to work closely with him (let alone depend on him). Resourceful, cunning and strategic, he can pull off serious political coups when the greater good happens to coincide with his personal advantage but these aspirations are rarely backed up by concrete achievements, or even detailed plans.”[351]

Purnell noted that Johnson was a “highly evasive figure” when it came to his personal life,[352] who remained detached from others and who had very few if any intimate friends.[353] Among friends and family, Johnson is known as “Al” rather than “Boris”.[354] Gimson stated that Johnson “has very bad manners. He tends to be late, does not care about being late, and dresses without much care”.[355] Highly ambitious and very competitive, Gimson noted that he was born “to wage a ceaseless struggle for supremacy”.[356] He would be particularly angered with those he thought insulted aspects of his personal life; for instance, when an article in The Telegraph upset him he e-mailed commissioning editor Sam Leith with the simple message “Fuck off and die.”[357] Thus Purnell notes that Johnson hides his ruthlessness “using bumbling, self-deprecation or humour”,[358] adding that he was a fan of “laddish banter and crude sexual references”.[359] Johnson is a fluent speaker of French and Italian, has a good grasp of German and Spanish,[77] and is a lover of Latin,[360] frequently using classical references in his newspaper columns and speeches.[339] Stating that in the past he has “often smoked cannabis”,[361] Johnson is in favour of legalising medical marijuana.[362]

“Boris is an original—the opposite of a stereotype, the exception to the rule. Overweight and goosey-fleshed, he’s the antithesis of an airbrushed pin-up. He resembles a ‘human laundry-basket’ and has a habit of forgetting to shower.”

Biographer Sonia Purnell[324]

Johnson is a controversial figure in British politics and journalism.[363][364] Purnell described Johnson as “the most unconventional, yet compelling politician of the post-Blair era” in British politics.[352] She added that in Britain, he was “beloved by millions and recognised by all”.[352] Giles Edwards and Jonathan Isaby commented that Johnson appealed to “a broad cross-section of the public”.[365] Gimson expressed the view that “people love him because he makes them laugh”,[366] noting that he had become “the darling of the Tory rank and file”.[367] Purnell recognised that during the 2008 mayoral election, he was “polarising opinions to the extreme”,[368] with critics viewing him as “variously evil, a clown, a racist and a bigot”.[369] Writing in The Guardian, journalist Polly Toynbee for instance referred to him as “Jester, toff, self-absorbed sociopath and serial liar”,[370] while Labour politician Hazel Blears called him “a nasty right-wing elitist, with odious views and criminal friends”.[371] More recently, Johnson has evoked comparisons with 2016 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.[372][373][374] In June 2016, Nick Clegg described him as “like Donald Trump with a thesaurus”,[375] while fellow Conservative MP Kenneth Clarkedescribed him as a “nicer Donald Trump”[376] and EU official Martin Selmayr described the potential election of Johnson and Trump to the leadership of their respective countries as a “horror scenario”.[377] However, Johnson has chosen to distance himself from Trump, criticising him on numerous occasions.[378][379]

Personal life

Johnson has dual citizenship in both the United Kingdom and the United States, since he was born in New York City to English parents. In 2014 Johnson acknowledged he was disputing a demand for capital gains tax from the US tax authorities,[380][381] which ultimately he paid.[382] In February 2015 Boris Johnson announced his intention to give up US citizenship to prove his loyalty to the UK.[383][384]

Johnson is the eldest of the four children of Stanley Johnson, a former Conservative Member of the European Parliamentand employee of the European Commission and World Bank, and the painter Charlotte Johnson Wahl (née Fawcett),[6] the daughter of Sir James Fawcett, a barrister[385] and president of the European Commission of Human Rights.[386] His younger siblings are Rachel Johnson, a writer and journalist; Leo Johnson, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers specialising in sustainability;[387] and Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science and Conservative MP forOrpington. His stepfather was the American academic Nicholas Wahl.[citation needed] Johnson’s stepmother, Jenny, the second wife of his father Stanley, is the stepdaughter of Teddy Sieff, the former chairman of Marks & Spencer.[388]

In 1987, he married Allegra Mostyn-Owen; the marriage was dissolved in 1993.[389] Later that year, he married Marina Wheeler, a barrister and daughter of journalist and broadcaster Sir Charles Wheeler and his wife, Dip Singh.[390] The Wheeler and Johnson families have known each other for decades,[391] and Marina Wheeler was at the European School in Brussels at the same time as her future husband. They have four children: two daughters, Lara and Cassia, and two sons, Milo and Theodore.[392] Johnson and his family live in Islington, North London.

In 2009 Johnson fathered a daughter with Helen MacIntyre, an arts consultant. Her existence was the subject of legal action in 2013 with the Court of Appeal quashing an injunction seeking to ban reporting of her existence; the judge ruled that the public had a right to know about Johnson’s “reckless” behaviour.[393][394][395]


David Cameron

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. For other uses, see David Cameron (disambiguation).
The Right Honourable
David Cameron
David Cameron official.jpg
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Assumed office
11 May 2010
Monarch Elizabeth II
Deputy Nick Clegg (Before 2015)
Preceded by Gordon Brown
Leader of the Opposition
In office
6 December 2005 – 11 May 2010
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Gordon Brown
Preceded by Michael Howard
Succeeded by Harriet Harman
Leader of the Conservative Party
Assumed office
6 December 2005
Deputy William Hague
George Osborne
Preceded by Michael Howard
Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Skills
In office
6 May 2005 – 6 December 2005
Leader Michael Howard
Preceded by Tim Collins
Succeeded by David Willetts
Conservative Policy Review Coordinator
In office
15 March 2004 – 6 May 2005
Leader Michael Howard
Preceded by David Willetts
Succeeded by Oliver Letwin (Review Chair)
Member of Parliament
for Witney
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded by Shaun Woodward
Majority 25,155 (43.0%)
Personal details
Born David William Donald Cameron
9 October 1966 (age 49)
London, United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Samantha Sheffield (m. 1996)
Children Ivan
Parents Ian Cameron
Fleur Mount
Residence 10 Downing Street
Alma mater Brasenose College, Oxford
Religion Anglicanism
Website Official website

David William Donald Cameron (/ˈkæmrən/; born 9 October 1966) is a British politician. Cameron has served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdomsince 2010, and as Member of Parliament for Witney since 2001. The Leaderof the Conservative Party since 2005, Cameron identifies as a One-Nation Conservative, and has been associated with both economically liberal andsocially liberal policies. After the referendum on leaving the European Union, Cameron announced that he would leave office by October 2016 (after a new Party leader is elected).

Born in London to wealthy upper middle-class parents, Cameron was educated at Heatherdown School, Eton College, and Brasenose College, Oxford. From 1988 to 1993 he worked at the Conservative Research Department, assisting the Conservative Prime Minister John Major, before leaving politics to work for Carlton Communications in 1994. Becoming an MP in 2001, he served in the opposition shadow cabinet under Conservative leader Michael Howard, succeeding Howard in 2005. Cameron sought to rebrand the Conservatives, embracing an increasingly socially liberal position. The 2010 general election led to Cameron becoming Prime Minister as the head of a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.[1] His premiershipwas marked by the ongoing effects of the late-2000s financial crisis; these involved a large deficit in government finances that his government sought to reduce through austerity measures. His administration introduced large-scale changes to welfare, immigration policy, education, and healthcare.[2] It privatised state assets like the Royal Mail and legalised same-sex marriage.

Internationally, his government militarily intervened in the Libyan Civil War and later authorised the bombing of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant; domestically, his government oversaw the referendum on voting reform andScottish independence referendum, both of which confirmed Cameron’s favoured outcome. When the Conservatives secured a majority in the 2015 general election, he remained as Prime Minister leading a Conservative government. To fulfil a manifesto pledge, he introduced a referendum on the UK’s continuing membership of the EU. Cameron supported continued membership; following the success of the “Leave” vote,[3] he announced that he would step down before the October 2016 Conservative Party conference to make way for a new Prime Minister.[3][4]

Cameron has been praised for modernising the Conservative Party and for reining in the United Kingdom’s national debt. Conversely he has been criticised by figures on both the left and right, accused of political opportunism and social elitism. Cameron has appeared on the Forbes List of The World’s Most Powerful People since 2010.[5]




Cameron is the younger son of Ian Donald Cameron (1932–2010), a stockbroker, and his wife Mary Fleur, née Mount (born 1934),[6] a retired Justice of the Peace and a daughter of Sir William Mount, 2nd Baronet.[7] Cameron’s parents were married on 20 October 1962.[6] The journalist Toby Young has described Cameron’s background as being “upper-upper-middle class”.[8]

Cameron was born in Marylebone, London,[9] and raised in Peasemore, Berkshire.[10] He has a brother, Alexander Cameron, QC (born 1963), a barrister,[11] and two sisters, Tania Rachel (born 1965) and Clare Louise (born 1971).[6][12]

His father, Ian, was born at Blairmore House near Huntly, Aberdeenshire, and died near Toulon, France, on 8 September 2010;[13] Ian was born with both legs deformed and underwent repeated operations to correct them. Blairmore was built by Cameron’s great-great-grandfather, Alexander Geddes,[14] who had made a fortune in the grain trade in Chicago, Illinois, before returning to Scotland in the 1880s.[15]

Cameron has said, “On my mother’s side of the family, her mother was a Llewellyn, so Welsh. I’m a real mixture of Scottish, Welsh, and English.”[16] He has also referenced the German Jewish ancestry of one of his great-grandfathers, Arthur Levita, a descendant of the Yiddish author Elia Levita.[17][18]


From the age of seven, Cameron was educated at two independent schools: at Heatherdown School in Winkfield (nearAscot) in Berkshire, which counts Prince Andrew and Prince Edward among its old boys. Due to good grades, Cameron entered its top academic class almost two years early.[19] At the age of thirteen, he went on to Eton College in Berkshire, following his father and elder brother.[20] His early interest was in art. Six weeks before taking his O-Levels he was caught smoking cannabis.[21] He admitted the offence and had not been involved in selling drugs, so he was not expelled, but was fined, prevented from leaving the school grounds, and given a “Georgic” (a punishment which involved copying 500 lines ofLatin text).[22]

Cameron passed twelve O-Levels and then three A-levels: History of art, History, in which he was taught by Michael Kidson, and Economics with Politics. He obtained three ‘A’ grades and a ‘1’ grade in the Scholarship Level exam in Economics and Politics.[23] The following autumn he passed the entrance exam for the University of Oxford, and was offered an exhibitionat Brasenose College.[24]

Brasenose College, Oxford

After leaving Eton in 1984,[25] Cameron started a nine-month gap year. For three months he worked as a researcher for his godfather Tim Rathbone, then Conservative MP for Lewes, during which time he attended debates in the House of Commons.[26] Through his father, he was then employed for a further three months in Hong Kong by Jardine Matheson as a ‘ship jumper’, an administrative post.[27]

Returning from Hong Kong, Cameron visited the then Soviet Union, where he was approached by two Russian men speaking fluent English. Cameron was later told by one of his professors that it was “definitely an attempt” by the KGB to recruit him.[28]

In October 1985, Cameron began his Bachelor of Arts course in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Brasenose College, Oxford.[29] His tutor, Professor Vernon Bogdanor, has described him as “one of the ablest” students he has taught,[30] with “moderate and sensible Conservative” political views.[12]

Guy Spier, who shared tutorials with him, remembers him as an outstanding student: “We were doing our best to grasp basic economic concepts. David—there was nobody else who came even close. He would be integrating them with the way the British political system is put together. He could have lectured me on it, and I would have sat there and taken notes.”[31] When commenting in 2006 on his former pupil’s ideas about a “Bill of Rights” to replace theHuman Rights Act, however, Professor Bogdanor, himself a Liberal Democrat, said, “I think he is very confused. I’ve read his speech and it’s filled with contradictions. There are one or two good things in it but one glimpses them, as it were, through a mist of misunderstanding”.[32]

While at Oxford, Cameron was a member of the student dining society the Bullingdon Club, which has a reputation for an outlandish drinking culture associated with boisterous behaviour and damaging property.[33] Cameron’s period in the Bullingdon Club was examined in a Channel 4 docu-drama, When Boris Met Dave.

Cameron graduated in 1988 with a first-class honours BA degree (later promoted to an MA by seniority).[34]

Early political career

Conservative Research Department

After graduation, Cameron worked for the Conservative Research Department between September 1988 and 1993. His first brief was Trade and Industry, Energy and Privatisation, and he befriended fellow young colleagues including Edward Llewellyn, Ed Vaizey and Rachel Whetstone. They and others formed a group they called the “Smith Square set”, which was dubbed the “Brat Pack” by the press, though it is better known as the “Notting Hill set“, a name given to it pejoratively byDerek Conway.[35] In 1991, Cameron was seconded to Downing Street to work on briefing John Major for the then bi-weekly sessions of Prime Minister’s Questions. One newspaper gave Cameron the credit for “sharper … Despatch boxperformances” by Major,[36] which included highlighting for Major “a dreadful piece of doublespeak” by Tony Blair (then theLabour Employment spokesman) over the effect of a national minimum wage.[37] He became head of the political section of the Conservative Research Department, and in August 1991 was tipped to follow Judith Chaplin as Political Secretary to the Prime Minister.[38]

However, Cameron lost to Jonathan Hill, who was appointed in March 1992. Instead, Cameron was given the responsibility for briefing Major for his press conferences during the 1992 general election.[39] During the campaign, Cameron was one of the young “brat pack” of party strategists who worked between 12 and 20 hours a day, sleeping in the house of Alan Duncan in Gayfere Street, Westminster, which had been Major’s campaign headquarters during his bid for the Conservative leadership.[40] Cameron headed the economic section; it was while working on this campaign that Cameron first worked closely with and befriended Steve Hilton, who was later to become Director of Strategy during his party leadership.[41] The strain of getting up at 04:45 every day was reported to have led Cameron to decide to leave politics in favour of journalism.[42]

Special Adviser to the Chancellor

The Conservatives’ unexpected success in the 1992 election led Cameron to hit back at older party members who had criticised him and his colleagues, saying “whatever people say about us, we got the campaign right,” and that they had listened to their campaign workers on the ground rather than the newspapers. He revealed he had led other members of the team across Smith Square to jeer at Transport House, the former Labour headquarters.[43] Cameron was rewarded with a promotion to Special Adviser to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Norman Lamont.[44]

Cameron was working for Lamont at the time of Black Wednesday, when pressure from currency speculators forced thepound sterling out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. At the 1992 Conservative Party conference, Cameron had difficulty trying to arrange to brief the speakers in the economic debate, having to resort to putting messages on the internal television system imploring the mover of the motion, Patricia Morris, to contact him.[45] Later that month Cameron joined a delegation of Special Advisers who visited Germany to build better relations with the Christian Democratic Union; he was reported to be “still smarting” over the Bundesbank‘s contribution to the economic crisis.[46]

Lamont fell out with John Major after Black Wednesday and became highly unpopular with the public. Taxes needed to be raised in the 1993 Budget, and Cameron fed the options Lamont was considering through to Conservative Campaign Headquarters for their political acceptability to be assessed.[47] By May 1993, the Conservatives’ average poll rating dropped below 30%, where they would remain until the 1997 general election.[48] Major and Lamont’s personal ratings also declined dramatically. However, Lamont’s unpopularity did not necessarily affect Cameron: he was considered as a potential “kamikaze” candidate for the Newbury by-election, which includes the area where he grew up.[49] However, Cameron decided not to stand.

During the by-election, Lamont gave the response “Je ne regrette rien” to a question about whether he most regretted claiming to see “the green shoots of recovery” or admitting to “singing in his bath” with happiness at leaving the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Cameron was identified by one journalist as having inspired this gaffe; it was speculated that the heavy Conservative defeat in Newbury may have cost Cameron his chance of becoming Chancellor himself, even though as he was not a Member of Parliament he could not have been.[50] Lamont was sacked at the end of May 1993, and decided not to write the usual letter of resignation; Cameron was given the responsibility to issue to the press a statement of self-justification.[51]

Special Adviser to the Home Secretary

The Home Office buildingCameron worked at during the 1990s

After Lamont was sacked, Cameron remained at the Treasury for less than a month before being specifically recruited by Home Secretary Michael Howard. It was commented that he was still “very much in favour”[52] and it was later reported that many at the Treasury would have preferred Cameron to carry on.[53] At the beginning of September 1993, Cameron applied to go on Conservative Central Office’s list of Prospective Parliamentary Candidates.[54]

Cameron was much more socially liberal than Howard but enjoyed working for him.[48]According to Derek Lewis, then Director-General of Her Majesty’s Prison Service, Cameron showed him a “his and hers list” of proposals made by Howard and his wife, Sandra. Lewis said that Sandra Howard‘s list included reducing the quality of prison food, although Sandra Howard denied this claim. Lewis reported that Cameron was “uncomfortable” about the list.[55] In defending Sandra Howard and insisting that she made no such proposal, the journalist Bruce Anderson wrote that Cameron had proposed a much shorter definition on prison catering which revolved around the phrase “balanced diet”, and that Lewis had written thanking Cameron for a valuable contribution.[56]

During his work for Howard, Cameron often briefed the media. In March 1994, someone leaked to the press that the Labour Party had called for a meeting with John Major to discuss a consensus on the Prevention of Terrorism Act. After an inquiry failed to find the source of the leak, Labour MP Peter Mandelson demanded assurance from Howard that Cameron had not been responsible, which Howard gave.[57][58] A senior Home Office civil servant noted the influence of Howard’s Special Advisers, saying previous incumbents “would listen to the evidence before making a decision. Howard just talks to young public school gentlemen from the party headquarters.”[59]


In July 1994, Cameron left his role as Special Adviser to work as the Director of Corporate Affairs at Carlton Communications.[60] Carlton, which had won the ITV franchise for London weekdays in 1991, was a growing media company which also had film-distribution and video-producing arms. Cameron was suggested for the role to Carlton executive chairman Michael P. Green by his later mother-in-law Lady Astor.[61] Cameron left Carlton to run for Parliament in 1997, returning to his job after his defeat.

In 1997, Cameron played up the Company’s prospects for digital terrestrial television, for which it joined with ITV Granadaand Sky to form British Digital Broadcasting. In a roundtable discussion on the future of broadcasting in 1998 he criticised the effect of overlapping different regulators on the industry.[62] Carlton’s consortium did win the digital terrestrial franchise but the resulting company suffered difficulties in attracting subscribers. Cameron resigned as Director of Corporate Affairs in February 2001 in order to run for Parliament for a second time, although he remained on the payroll as a consultant.

Parliamentary candidacies

Stafford, the constituency Cameron contested in 1997

Having been approved for the Candidates’ list, Cameron began looking for a seat to contest for the 1997 general election. He was reported to have missed out on selection for Ashford in December 1994 after failing to get to the selection meeting as a result of train delays.[63] In January 1996, when two shortlisted contenders dropped out, Cameron was interviewed and subsequently selected for Stafford, a constituency revised in boundary changes, which was projected to have a Conservative majority.[48][64] The incumbent Conservative MP, Bill Cash, ran instead in the neighbouring constituency of Stone, where he was re-elected. At the 1996 Conservative Party Conference, Cameron called for tax cuts in the forthcoming Budget to be targeted at the low-paid and to “small businesses where people took money out of their own pockets to put into companies to keep them going”.[65] He also said the Party “should be proud of the Tory tax record but that people needed reminding of its achievements … It’s time to return to our tax-cutting agenda. The socialist Prime Ministers of Europe have endorsed Tony Blair because they want a federal pussy cat and not a British lion.”[66]

When writing his election address, Cameron made his own opposition to British membership of the single European currency clear, pledging not to support it. This was a break with official Conservative policy but about 200 other candidates were making similar declarations.[67] Otherwise, Cameron kept closely to the national party line. He also campaigned using the claim that a Labour Government would increase the cost of a pint of beer by 24p; however, the Labour candidate, David Kidney, portrayed Cameron as “a right-wing Tory”. Initially, Cameron thought he had a 50/50 chance but as the campaign wore on and the scale of the impending Conservative defeat grew, Cameron prepared himself for defeat.[68] On election day, Stafford had a swing of 10.7%, almost the same as the national swing, which made it one of the many seats to fall to Labour: Kidney defeated Cameron by 24,606 votes (47.5%) to 20,292 (39.2%), a majority of 4,314 (8.3%).[69][70]

In the round of selection contests taking place in the run-up to the 2001 general election, Cameron again attempted to be selected for a winnable seat. He tried for the Kensington and Chelsea seat after the death of Alan Clark, but did not make the shortlist. He was in the final two but narrowly lost at Wealden in March 2000,[71] a loss ascribed by Samantha Cameron to his lack of spontaneity when speaking.[72]

On 4 April 2000 Cameron was selected as prospective candidate (PPC) for Witney in Oxfordshire. This had been a safe Conservative seat but its sitting MP Shaun Woodward (who had worked with Cameron on the 1992 election campaign) had “crossed the floor” to join the Labour Party and was selected instead for the safe Labour seat of St Helens South. Cameron’s biographers Francis Elliott and James Hanning describe the two men as being “on fairly friendly terms”.[73]Cameron, advised in his strategy by friend Catherine Fall, put a great deal of effort into “nursing” his potential constituency, turning up at social functions, and attacking Woodward for changing his mind on fox hunting to support a ban.[74]

During the election campaign, Cameron accepted the offer of writing a regular column for The Guardians online section.[75]He won the seat with a 1.9% swing to the Conservatives, taking 22,153 votes (45%) to Labour candidate Michael Bartlet’s 14,180 (28.8%), a majority of 7,973 (16.2%).[76][77]

Member of Parliament, 2001–05

Upon his election to Parliament, he served as a member of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, a prominent appointment for a newly elected MP. Cameron proposed that the Committee launch an inquiry into the law on drugs,[78] and urged the consideration of “radical options”.[79] The report recommended a downgrading of Ecstasy from Class A to Class B, as well as moves towards a policy of ‘harm reduction‘, which Cameron defended.[80]

Cameron determinedly attempted to increase his public visibility, offering quotations on matters of public controversy. He opposed the payment of compensation to Gurbux Singh, who had resigned as head of the Commission for Racial Equalityafter a confrontation with the police;[81] and commented that the Home Affairs Select Committee had taken a long time to discuss whether the phrase “black market” should be used.[82] However, he was passed over for a front-bench promotion in July 2002; Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith did invite Cameron and his ally George Osborne to coach him on Prime Minister’s Questions in November 2002. The next week, Cameron deliberately abstained in a vote on allowing same-sex and unmarried couples to adopt children jointly, against a whip to oppose; his abstention was noted.[83] The wide scale of abstentions and rebellious votes destabilised the Duncan Smith leadership.

In June 2003, Cameron was appointed a shadow minister in the Privy Council Office as a deputy to Eric Forth, then Shadow Leader of the House. He also became a vice- chairman of the Conservative Party when Michael Howard took over the leadership in November of that year. He was appointed Opposition frontbench local government spokesman in 2004, before being promoted to the Shadow Cabinet that June as head of policy co-ordination. Later, he became Shadow Education Secretary in the post-election reshuffle.[84]

Daniel Finkelstein has said of the period leading up to Cameron’s election as leader of the Conservative party that “a small group of us (myself, David Cameron, George Osborne, Michael Gove, Nick Boles, Nick Herbert I think, once or twice) used to meet up in the offices of Policy Exchange, eat pizza, and consider the future of the Conservative Party”.[85] Cameron’s relationship with Osborne is regarded as particularly close; Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi has suggested the closeness of his relationship with David Cameron means the two effectively share power in the current government.[86]

From February 2002 to August 2005 he was a non-executive director of Urbium PLC, operator of the Tiger Tiger bar chain.[87]

Conservative Party leadership

David Cameron campaigning for the 2006 local elections in Newcastle upon Tyne

2005 leadership election

Following the Labour victory in the May 2005 general election, Michael Howard announced his resignation as leader of the Conservative Party and set a lengthy timetable for theleadership election. Cameron announced on 29 September 2005 that he would be a candidate. Parliamentary colleagues supporting him included Boris Johnson, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, Shadow Defence Secretary and deputy leader of the partyMichael Ancram, Oliver Letwin[88] and former party leader William Hague.[89] His campaign did not gain wide support until his speech, delivered without notes, at the 2005 ConservativeParty Conference. In the speech he vowed to make people “feel good about being Conservatives again” and said he wanted “to switch on a whole new generation.”[90] His speech was well-received; The Daily Telegraph said speaking without notes “showed a sureness and a confidence that is greatly to his credit”.[91]

In the first ballot of Conservative MPs on 18 October 2005, Cameron came second, with 56 votes, slightly more than expected; David Davis had fewer than predicted at 62 votes; Liam Fox came third with 42 votes; and Kenneth Clarke was eliminated with 38 votes. In the second ballot on 20 October 2005, Cameron came first with 90 votes; David Davis was second, with 57; and Liam Fox was eliminated with 51 votes.[92] All 198 Conservative MPs voted in both ballots.

The next stage of the election process, between Davis and Cameron, was a vote open to the entire party membership. Cameron was elected with more than twice as many votes as Davis and more than half of all ballots issued; Cameron won 134,446 votes on a 78% turnout, to Davis’s 64,398.[93] Although Davis had initially been the favourite, it was widely acknowledged that his candidacy was marred by a disappointing conference speech.[94] Cameron’s election as the Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition was announced on 6 December 2005. As is customary for an Opposition leader not already a member, upon election Cameron became a member of the Privy Council, being formally approved to join on 14 December 2005, and sworn of the Council on 8 March 2006.[95]

Reaction to Cameron as Leader

Cameron being interviewed at the headquarters of Oxfam in 2006

Cameron’s relative youth and inexperience before becoming leader have invited satirical comparison with Tony Blair. Private Eye soon published a picture of both leaders on its front cover, with the caption “World’s first face transplant a success”.[96] On the left, the New Statesman unfavourably likened his “new style of politics” to Tony Blair’s early leadership years.[97] Cameron was accused of paying excessive attention to appearance: ITV News broadcast footage from the 2006 Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth shows him wearing four different sets of clothes within a few hours.[98] He was described by comedy writer and broadcaster Charlie Brooker in April 2007 as being “like a hollow Easter egg with no bag of sweets inside” in his Guardian column.[99]

On the right of the party, Norman Tebbit, a former Conservative Chairman, likened Cameron to Pol Pot, “intent on purging even the memory of Thatcherism before building a New Modern Compassionate Green Globally Aware Party”.[100] Quentin Davies MP, who defected from the Conservatives to Labour on 26 June 2007, branded him “superficial, unreliable and [with] an apparent lack of any clear convictions” and stated that David Cameron had turned the Conservative Party’s mission into a “PR agenda”.[101] Traditionalist conservative columnist and author Peter Hitchens wrote, “Mr Cameron has abandoned the last significant difference between his party and the established left”, by embracing social liberalism.[102] Daily Telegraph correspondent and blogger Gerald Warner was particularly scathing about Cameron’s leadership, saying that it alienated traditionalist conservative elements from the Conservative Party.[103]

Before he became Conservative leader, Cameron was reported to be known to friends and family as “Dave”, though his preference is “David” in public.[104][105] Labour used the slogan Dave the Chameleon in their 2006 local elections party broadcast to portray Cameron as an ever-changing populist, which was criticised as negative campaigning by the conservative press including The Telegraph,[106] though Cameron asserted the broadcast had become his daughter’s “favourite video”.[107]

Shadow Cabinet appointments

Cameron speaking at the Home Office, on 13 May 2010

His Shadow Cabinet appointments included MPs associated with the various wings of the party. Former leader William Hague was appointed to the Foreign Affairs brief, while bothGeorge Osborne and David Davis were retained, as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequerand Shadow Home Secretary respectively. Hague, assisted by Davis, stood in for Cameron during his paternity leave in February 2006.[108] In June 2008 Davis announced his intention to resign as an MP, and was immediately replaced as Shadow Home Secretary by Dominic Grieve; Davis’ surprise move was seen as a challenge to the changes introduced under Cameron’s leadership.[109]

David Cameron withTheresa May, who was a member of the Shadow Cabinet from 1999 until 2010

In January 2009 a reshuffle of the Shadow Cabinet was undertaken. The chief change was the appointment of former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke as Shadow Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Secretary, David Cameron stating that “With Ken Clarke’s arrival, we now have the best economic team.” The reshuffle also saw eight other changes made.[110]

European Conservatives and Reformists

During his successful 2005 campaign to be elected Leader of the Conservative Party, Cameron pledged that the Conservative Party’s Members of the European Parliamentwould leave the European People’s Party group, which had a “federalist” approach to the European Union.[111] Once elected Cameron began discussions with right-wing andEurosceptic parties in other European countries, mainly in eastern Europe, and in July 2006 he concluded an agreement to form the Movement for European Reform with the CzechCivic Democratic Party, leading to the formation of a new European Parliament group, theEuropean Conservatives and Reformists, in 2009 after the European Parliament elections.[112] Cameron attended a gathering at Warsaw‘s Palladium cinema celebrating the foundation of the alliance.[113]

In forming the caucus, which had 54 MEPs drawn from eight of the 27 EU member states, Cameron reportedly broke with two decades of Conservative co-operation with the centre-right Christian Democrats, the European People’s Party(EPP),[114] on the grounds that they are dominated by European federalists and supporters of the Lisbon treaty.[114] EPP leader Wilfried Martens, former Prime Minister of Belgium, has stated “Cameron’s campaign has been to take his party back to the centre in every policy area with one major exception: Europe. … I can’t understand his tactics. Merkel andSarkozy will never accept his Euroscepticism.”[114]

Shortlists for Parliamentary candidates

Similarly, Cameron’s initial “A-List” of prospective parliamentary candidates was attacked by members of his party,[115] and the policy was discontinued in favour of sex-balanced final shortlists. Before being discontinued, the policy had been criticised by senior Conservative MP and former Prisons Spokeswoman Ann Widdecombe as an “insult to women”, and she had accused Cameron of “storing up huge problems for the future.”[116]

2010 general election

The Conservatives had last won a general election in 1992. The general election of 2010 resulted in the Conservatives, led by Cameron, winning the largest number of seats (306). This was, however, 20 seats short of an overall majority and resulted in the nation’s first hung parliament since February 1974.[117]

Talks between Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg led to an agreed Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition. Cameron in late 2009 had urged the Liberal Democrats to join the Conservatives in a new “national movement” saying there was “barely a cigarette paper” between them on a large number of issues. The invitation was rejected at the time by the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, who said that the Conservatives were totally different from his party and that the Lib Dems were the true “progressives” in UK politics.[118]

Prime Minister

US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron trade bottles of beer to settle a bet they made on the U.S. vs. England World Cup Soccer game (which ended in a tie), during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, Saturday, 26 June 2010

Meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama during the 2010 G20 Toronto summit

On 11 May 2010, following the resignation of Gordon Brown as Prime Minister and on his recommendation, Elizabeth II invited Cameron to form a government.[119] At age 43, Cameron became the youngest Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in 1812, beating the record previously set by Tony Blair in May 1997.[1] In his first address outside 10 Downing Street, he announced his intention to form a coalition government, the first since the Second World War, with the Liberal Democrats.

Cameron in 2009 as Leader of the Opposition, with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who later became Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Lib Dem spokesman Chris Huhne

Cameron outlined how he intended to “put aside party differences and work hard for the common good and for the national interest.”[1] As one of his first moves Cameron appointed Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, as Deputy Prime Minister on 11 May 2010.[119] Between them, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats controlled 363 seats in the House of Commons, with a majority of 76 seats.[120] On 2 June 2010, when Cameron took his first session of Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) as Prime Minister, he began by offering his support and condolences to those affected by the shootings in Cumbria.[121]

In June 2010 Cameron described the economic situation as he came to power as “even worse than we thought” and warned of “difficult decisions” to be made over spending cuts.[122] By the beginning of 2015 he was able to claim that his government’s austerity programme had succeeded in halving the budget deficit, though critics described the claim as misleading since it was only true of the deficit measured as a percentage of GDP[123][124]

On 5 February 2011, Cameron criticised the failure of ‘state multiculturalism‘, in his first speech as PM on radicalisation and the causes of terrorism.[125] In July 2015, he outlined a five-year strategy to counter Islamist extremism and subversive teachings.[126]

Cameron agreed to holding the Scottish independence referendum, 2014 and eliminated the “devomax” option from the ballot for a straight out yes or no vote. He supported the successful Better Together campaign. He had also backed a successful campaign to retain the status quo in a referendum on changing the voting system held at the request of his coalition partners.

He supported the introduction of gay marriage despite more of his own Conservative MPs voting against the move than for it, meaning the support of Lib Dem MPs in government and Labour MPs in opposition was required to allow it to pass.[127]

Earlier in his term he had managed to secure a huge majority for UK participation in UN-backed military action in Libya.[128]However, Cameron became the first prime minister in over 100 years to lose a foreign policy vote in the House of Commons over proposed military action against Assad’s regime in Syria.[129]

2015 general election

Cameron with Polish Prime MinisterBeata Szydło in Warsaw, 10 December 2015

On 7 May 2015, Cameron was re-elected UK Prime Minister with a majority in the Commons. The Conservative Party’s decisive win in the general election was as a surprise victory, as most polls and commentators predicted the outcome would be too close to call and result in a second hung parliament.[130] Cameron said of his first term when returned as Prime Minister for a second term that he was “proud to lead the first coalition government in 70 years” and offered particular thanks to Clegg for his role in it.[131] Forming the first Conservative majority government since 1992, David Cameron became the first Prime Minister to be re-elected immediately after a full term with a larger popular vote share since Lord Salisbury at the 1900 general election.

In response to the November 2015 Paris attacks, Cameron secured the support of the House of Commons to extend air strikes against ISIS into Syria.[132]

2016 referendum and resignation

Cameron announcing his resignation as Prime Minister in the wake of the UK vote on EU membership.

As promised in the election manifesto, Cameron set a date for a referendum on whether the UK should remain a member of the European Union, and announced that he would be campaigning for Britain to remain within a “reformed EU”.[133] The terms of the UK’s membership of the EU were re-negotiated, with agreement reached in February 2016.[134]

In the referendum of 23 June 2016, the British electorate voted in favour of leaving the European Union.[135][136][137] On 24 June, a few hours after the results became known, Cameron announced that he would resign the office of Prime Minister by the start of the Conservative Party Conference in October 2016.[3][138][139] Very intense criticism followed the realisation of just how much the referendum had split the country, with The Independent saying it was called to save Cameron’s job and was an act of “indescribably selfish recklessness.” [140]

The Conservative Party leadership election was scheduled for 9 September and the new leader was expected to be in place by the autumn conference, set to begin on 2 October.[141]

Policies and views

Self-description of views

Cameron describes himself in December 2005 as a “modern compassionate conservative” and has spoken of a need for a new style of politics, saying that he was “fed up with the Punch and Judy politics of Westminster“.[142] He is “certainly a bigThatcher fan, but I don’t know whether that makes me a Thatcherite”,[143] claiming to be a “liberal Conservative”, though “not a deeply ideological person.”[144] As Leader of the Opposition, Cameron asserted that he did not intend to oppose the government as a matter of course, and would offer his support in areas of agreement. He has urged politicians to concentrate more on improving people’s happiness and “general well-being”, instead of focusing solely on “financial wealth”.[145] There were claims that he described himself to journalists at a dinner during the leadership contest as the “heir to Blair”.[146]

In his first Conservative Conference speech as party leader in Bournemouth in 2006, he described the National Health Service as “one of the 20th Century’s greatest achievements”. He went on to say, “Tony Blair explained his priorities in three words: education, education, education. I can do it in three letters: N.H.S.” He also talked about his severely disabled son, Ivan, concluding “So, for me, it is not just a question of saying the NHS is safe in my hands—of course it will be. My family is so often in the hands of the NHS, so I want them to be safe there.”[147]

Cameron talks with U.S. PresidentBarack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, 25 May 2011

Cameron said that he believes in “spreading freedom and democracy, and supporting humanitarian intervention” in cases such as the genocide in Darfur,Sudan. However, he rejected neo-conservatism because, as a conservative, he recognises “the complexities of human nature, and will always be skeptical of grand schemes to remake the world.”[148] A supporter of multilateralism as “a country may act alone—but it cannot always succeed alone”, he believes multilateralism can take the form of acting through “NATO, the UN, the G8, the EU and other institutions”, or through international alliances.[149] Cameron said that “If the West is to help other countries, we must do so from a position of genuine moral authority” and “we must strive above all for legitimacy in what we do.”[149]

He believes that British Muslims have a duty to integrate into British culture, but noted in an article published in 2007 that the Muslim community finds aspects such as high divorce rates and drug use uninspiring, and that “Not for the first time, I found myself thinking that it is mainstream Britain which needs to integrate more with the British Asian way of life, not the other way around.”[150] In 2010 he appointed the first Muslim member of the British cabinet, Baroness Warsi, as a minister without portfolio, and in 2012 made her a special minister of state in foreign affairs. She resigned, however, in August 2014 over the government’s handling of the2014 Israel–Gaza conflict.

Whilst urging members of his party to support the Coalition’s proposals for same-sex marriage, Cameron said that he backed gay marriage not in spite of his conservatism but because he is a conservative, and claimed it was about equality.[151] In 2012, Cameron publicly apologised for Thatcher-era policies on homosexuality, specifically the introduction of the controversial Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which he described as “a mistake”.[152]

Comments on other parties and politicians

Cameron criticised Gordon Brown (when Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer) for being “an analogue politician in a digital age” and referred to him as “the roadblock to reform”.[153] He said that John Prescott “clearly looks a fool” after Prescott’s personal indiscretions were revealed in spring 2006, and wondered if the Deputy Prime Minister had broken the ministerial code.[154] During a speech to the Ethnic Media Conference on 29 November 2006, Cameron also described Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, as an “ageing far left politician” in reference to Livingstone’s views onmulticulturalism.[155]

As Prime Minister, he reacted to press reports that Brown could be the next head of the International Monetary Fund by hinting that he may block the appointment, citing the huge national debt that Brown left the country with as a reason for Brown not being suitable for the role.[156]

Cameron, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair during Barack Obama’s address to Parliament, 10 June 2011

In April 2006, Cameron accused the UK Independence Party of being “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly,”[157] leading UKIP MEP Nigel Farage (who became leader in September of that year) to demand an apology for the remarks. Right-wing Conservative MP Bob Spink, who later defected to UKIP, also criticised the remarks,[158] as did The Daily Telegraph.[159] Cameron was seen encouraging Conservative MPs to join the standing ovation given to Tony Blair at the end of his last Prime Minister’s Question Time; he had paid tribute to the “huge efforts” Blair had made and said Blair had “considerable achievements to his credit, whether it is peace in Northern Ireland or his work in the developing world, which will endure”.[160]

In 2006, Cameron made a speech in which he described extremist Islamicorganisations and the British National Party as “mirror images” to each other, both preaching “creeds of pure hatred”.[161]Cameron is listed as being a supporter of Unite Against Fascism.[162]

In September 2015, after the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, Cameron called the party a “threat” to British national and economic security, on the basis of Corbyn’s defence and fiscal policies.[163]

Political commentary

Allegations of social elitism

Cameron speaking at a Conservative reception in 2008

While Leader of the Conservative Party, Cameron has been accused of reliance on “old-boy networks”,[164] and conversely attacked by his party for the imposition of selective shortlists of women and ethnic minority prospective parliamentary candidates.[115]

Some of Cameron’s senior appointments, such as George Osborne as Chancellor of the Exchequer, are former members of the Bullingdon Club. Michael Goveconceded it was “ridiculous” how many fellow Cabinet ministers were old-Etonians, though he placed the blame on the failings of the state education system rather than Cameron.[165] However, Michael Mosbacher, co-founder of Standpointmagazine, wrote that Cameron’s Cabinet has the lowest number of Etonians of any past Conservative government: “David Cameron’s government is the least patrician, least wealthy and least public-school-educated—indeed the least Etonian Conservative-led government this country has ever seen”.[166]

Cameron speaking in 2010


In 2006 Cameron described poverty as a “moral disgrace”[167] and promised to tackle relative poverty.[168] In 2007 Cameron promised, “We can make British poverty history, and we will make British poverty history”. Also in 2007 he stated “Ending child poverty is central to improving child well-being”.[169] In 2015 Polly Toynbee questioned Cameron’s commitment to tackling poverty, contrasting his earlier statements agreeing that “poverty is relative” with proposals to change the government’s poverty measure, and saying that cuts in child tax credits would increase child poverty among low-paid working families.[170]

Food banks

The rapid growth in the use of food banks under David Cameron became one of the major criticisms of his administration, and a recurring theme at Prime Minister’s Questions.[171][172] Cameron praised volunteers providing donated food as “part of what I call the Big Society“, to which responded that he “never thought the Big Society was about feeding hungry children in Britain”.[173]

In February 2014, 27 Anglican bishops together with leading Methodists and Quakers wrote an open letter to Cameron blaming government policy for a rise in the use of food banks. The letter asserted that “over half of people using food banks have been put in that situation by cutbacks to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions”.[174] The government responded that delays in benefit processing had been reduced, with the proportion of benefits paid on time rising from 88–89% under Labour, to 96–97% in 2014.[175] Cameron said that the rise in food bank usage was due to the government encouraging Jobcentres and local authorities to promote them, and noted an OECD report which showed a fall in the proportion of people in Britain struggling to buy food.[176]


During the MPs expenses scandal in 2009, Cameron said he would lead Conservatives in repaying “excessive” expenses and threatened to expel MPs that refused after the expense claims of several members of his shadow cabinet had been questioned:

We have to acknowledge just how bad this is, the public are really angry and we have to start by saying, “Look, this system that we have, that we used, that we operated, that we took part in—it was wrong and we are sorry about that”.[177]

Cameron is in favour of self-determination for Gibraltarians, 10 September 2013

One day later, The Daily Telegraph published figures showing over five years he had claimed £82,450 on his second home allowance.[178] Cameron repaid £680 claimed for repairs to his constituency home.[179] Although he was not accused of breaking any rules, Cameron was placed on the defensive over mortgage interest expense claims covering his constituency home, after a report in The Mail on Sunday suggested he could have reduced the mortgage interest bill by putting an additional £75000 of his own money towards purchasing the home in Witney instead of paying off an earlier mortgage on his London home.[180] Cameron said that doing things differently would not have saved the taxpayer any money, as he was paying more on mortgage interest than he was able to reclaim as expenses anyway[180] He also spoke out in favour of laws giving voters the power to “recall” or “sack” MPs accused of wrongdoing.[180] In April 2014, he was criticised for his handling of the expenses row surrounding Culture Secretary Maria Miller, when he rejected calls from fellow Conservative MPs to sack her from the front bench.[181]

Raising teaching standards

At the launch of the Conservative Party’s education manifesto in January 2010, Cameron declared an admiration for the “brazenly elite” approach to education of countries such as Singapore and South Korea and expressed a desire to “elevate the status of teaching in our country”.[182] He suggested the adoption of more stringent criteria for entry to teaching and offered repayment of the loans of maths and science graduates obtaining first or 2.1 degrees from “good” universities.[183]

Wes Streeting, then president of the National Union of Students, said “The message that the Conservatives are sending to the majority of students is that if you didn’t go to a university attended by members of the Shadow Cabinet, they don’t believe you’re worth as much.”[184]


Commenting on rail fare increases in January 2015, Cameron said “We’ve made sure that rail fares cannot go up by more than inflation. So the rail fare increase this year, as last year, is linked to inflation, and I think that’s right. In previous years it’s gone up by more than inflation. But, of course, what you’re seeing on our railways is a £38bn investment project. And that money is coming, of course, from taxpayers, from the government, and from farepayers as well.” He described the policies of his government as “the biggest investment in our roads since the 1970s, but in our railways since Victorian times”.[185]

South Africa

In April 2009, The Independent reported that in 1989, while Nelson Mandela remained imprisoned under the apartheidregime, David Cameron had accepted a trip to South Africa paid for by an anti-sanctions lobby firm. A spokesperson for Cameron responded by saying that the Conservative Party was at that time opposed to sanctions against South Africa and that his trip was a fact-finding mission. However, the newspaper reported that Cameron’s then superior at Conservative Research Department called the trip “jolly”, saying that “it was all terribly relaxed, just a little treat, a perk of the job. TheBotha regime was attempting to make itself look less horrible, but I don’t regard it as having been of the faintest political consequence.” Cameron distanced himself from his party’s history of opposing sanctions against the regime. He was criticised by Labour MP Peter Hain, himself an anti-apartheid campaigner.[186]

Iraq War

In an interview on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross in 2006, Cameron said that he supported the decision of the then Labour Government to go to war in Iraq, and said that he thought supporters should “see it through”.[187] He also supported a motion brought by the SNP and Plaid Cymru in 2006 calling for an inquiry into the government’s conduct of the Iraq war. In 2011, he oversaw the withdrawal of British soldiers from Iraq. He has repeatedly called for the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war to conclude and publish its findings, saying “People want to know the truth”[188]

NATO military intervention in Libya

Cameron and Foreign SecretaryWilliam Hague speaking to NATOSecretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the London Conference on Libya, 29 March 2011

Libya–United Kingdom relations soured in 2011 with the outbreak of the Libyan Civil War. Cameron condemned the “appalling and unacceptable” violence used against anti-Gaddafi protesters.[189] After weeks of lobbying by the UK and its allies, on 17 March 2011 the United Nations Security Council approved a no-fly zone to prevent government forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi from carrying out air attacks on anti-Gaddafi rebels.[190] Two days later the UK and the United States fired more than 110 Tomahawk missiles at targets in Libya.[191]

Cameron has said he is “proud” of the role United Kingdom played in the overthrow of Gaddafi’s government.[192] Cameron also stated that UK had played a “very important role”,[193] adding that “a lot of people said that Tripoli was completely different to Benghazi and that the two don’t get on—they were wrong. … People who said ‘this is all going to be an enormous swamp of Islamists and extremists’—they were wrong.”[194]

In March 2016, with two main rival factions based in Tripoli and Benghazi continuing to fight, an Independent editorial noted that “there can be no question that Libya is broken. There are three nominal governments, none of which holds much authority. The economy is flatlining. Refugees flood to the Mediterranean. And Isis has put down roots in Sirte and, increasingly, Tripoli.”[195][196] It was at this time that U.S. President Barack Obama accused Cameron of allowing Libya to sink into a “mess”, though in private the American leader bluntly describes post-intervention Libya as a “shit show”.[197]

Military intervention in Iraq and Syria

In August 2013, Cameron lost a motion in favour of bombing Syrian armed forces in response to the Ghouta chemical attack, becoming the first prime minister to suffer such a foreign-policy defeat since 1782.[198] In September 2014, MPs passed a motion in favour of British planes joining, at the request of the Iraqi government, a bombing campaign againstIslamic State (IS) targets in Iraq;[199] the motion explicitly expressed parliament’s disapproval of UK military action in Syria.[200] Cameron promised that, before expanding UK air strikes to include IS units in Syria, he would seek parliamentary approval.[201]

In July 2015, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by Reprieve revealed that, without the knowledge of UK parliamentarians, RAF pilots had, in fact, been bombing targets in Syria, and that Cameron knew of this.[202][203] The prime minister, along with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, faced strong criticism, including from Tory MPs, for not informing the Commons about this deployment; the Ministry of Defence said that the pilots concerned were “embedded” with foreign military forces, and so were “effectively” operating as such, while Fallon denied that MPs had been, as he put it, “kept in the dark”.[204][205][206] The Reprieve FoI request also revealed that British drone pilots had been embedded, almost continuously, with American forces at Creech Air Force Base since 2008. These drone operators, who were “a gift of services”, meaning the UK still paid their salaries and covered their expenses, had been carrying out operations that included reconnaissance in Syria to assist American strikes against IS.[207]

Cameron and Russian President Vladimir Putin, G-20 Antalya summit, Turkey, 16 November 2015

Fallon said that it was “illogical” for the UK not to bomb ISIL in Syria as the organisation does not “differentiate between Syria and Iraq” and is “organised and directed and administered from Syria”.[208] Following the terrorist attacks on Paris in November 2015, for which Islamic State claimed responsibility, Cameron began pushing for a strategy for the Royal Air Force to bomb Syria in retaliation.[209]Cameron set out his case for military intervention to Parliament on 26 November, telling MPs that it was the only way to guarantee Britain’s safety and would be part of a “comprehensive” strategy to defeat IS.[210] On 3 December 2015 MPs voted 397–223 in favour of launching air strikes against ISIL targets in Syria. The vote for military action was supported by all but seven members of the Parliamentary Conservative Party, as well as 66 Labour MPs who backed the government in defiance of their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who had expressed his opposition to air strikes.[211]

The Falklands

In 2013, in response to Argentina‘s calls for negotiations over the Falkland Islands‘ sovereignty, a referendum was called asking Falkland Islanders whether they supported the continuation of their status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. With a turnout of 91.94%, an overwhelming 99.8% voted to remain a British territory with only three votes against.[212]

In light of this, Cameron said:

We believe in the Falkland islanders’ right to self-determination. They had a referendum. They couldn’t have been more clear about wanting to remain with our country and we should protect and defend them.[213]


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Cameron at the Wembley Stadium, 13 November 2015

Cameron has been a strong advocate of increased ties between India and the United Kingdom, describing Indian–British relations as the “New Special Relationship” in 2010.[214][215]

In October 2012, as Narendra Modi rose to prominence in India, the UK rescinded its boycott of the then-Gujarat state Chief Minister over religious riots in Gujarat in 2002 that left more than 2,000 dead,[216] and in November 2013, Cameron commented that he was “open” to meeting Modi.[217]

Modi was later elected as Prime Minister in a landslide majority, leading to Cameron calling Modi and congratulating him on the “election success”,[218] one of the first Western leaders to do so.[219]

Sri Lanka

Cameron reiterated calls for an independent investigation into the alleged war crimes during the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War.[220] “There needs to be proper inquiries into what happened at the end of the war, there needs to be proper human rights, democracy for the Tamil minority in that country” Cameron stated.[221][222] He stated that, if this investigation was not completed by March 2014, he would press for an independent international inquiry.[223][224][225] This followed a visit to Jaffna, a war-ravaged town in the northern part of Sri Lanka; Cameron was the first foreign leader to visit Jaffna since the island once colonised by Britain became independent in 1948.[226][227] Cameron was mobbed by demonstrators, mostly women, seeking his assistance in tracing missing relatives.[228][229]

Turkey and Israel

In a speech in Ankara in July 2010, Cameron stated unequivocally his support for Turkey’s accession to the EU, citing economic, security and political considerations, and claimed that those who opposed Turkish membership were driven by “protectionism, narrow nationalism or prejudice”.[230][231] In that speech, he was also critical of Israeli action during the Gaza flotilla raid and its Gaza policy, and repeated his opinion that Israel had turned Gaza into a “prison camp”,[230] having previously referred to Gaza as “a giant open prison”.[232] These views were met with mixed reactions.[233][234][235] The Cameron government does not formally recognise the Ottoman Empire’s massacres of Armenians as a “genocide”.[236]

At the end of May 2011, Cameron stepped down as patron of the Jewish National Fund,[237][238] becoming the first British prime minister not to be patron of the charity in the 110 years of its existence.[239]

In a speech in 2011 Cameron said: “You have a Prime Minister whose commitment and determination to work for peace in Israel is deep and strong. Britain will continue to push for peace, but will always stand up for Israel against those who wish her harm”. He said he wanted to reaffirm his “unshakable” belief in Israel within the same message.[240] He also voiced his opposition to the Goldstone Report, claiming it had been biased against Israel and not enough blame had been placed on Hamas.

In March 2014, during his first visit to Israel as Prime Minister, Cameron addressed Israel’s Knesset in Jerusalem, where he offered his full support for peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians, hoping a two-state solution might be achieved.[241] He also made clear his rejection of trade or academic boycotts against Israel,[242] acknowledged Israel’s right to defend its citizens as “a right enshrined in international law,” and made note of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, as “the moment when the State of Israel went from a dream to a plan, Britain has played a proud and vital role in helping to secure Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people.”[241] During his two-day visit, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.[243] Senior Foreign Office minister The Baroness Warsi resigned over the Cameron government’s decision not to condemn Israel for the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, saying that the government’s “approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible.”[244]

Saudi Arabia

Cameron supports Britain’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia.[245] In January 2015, Cameron travelled to the Saudi capital Riyadh to pay his respects following the death of the nation’s King Abdullah.

According to WikiLeaks, Cameron initiated a secret deal with Saudi Arabia ensuring both were elected onto the U.N. Human Rights Council.[246] Cameron’s government announced “firm political support” for the 2015 Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen against the Shi’a Houthis,[247] re-supplying the Saudi military with weapons.[248][249] Cameron has been criticised for participating in Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.[250]

LGBT rights

Back in 2010 David Cameron was given a score of 36% in favour of lesbian, gay and bisexual equality by Stonewall.[251]Prior to 2005, David Cameron was opposed to gay rights, calling it a “fringe agenda” and attacking the then-Prime MinisterTony Blair for “moving heaven and earth to allow the promotion of homosexuality in our schools” by repealing the anti-gaySection 28 of the Local Government Act 1988.[252] Cameron is also recorded by Hansard as having voted against same-sex adoption rights in 2002, but he denies this, claiming he abstained from the three-line whip imposed on him by his party. In 2008, he wanted lesbians who receive IVF treatment to be required to name a father figure, which received condemnation from LGBT equality groups.[252] However, Cameron supported commitment for gay couples in a 2005 speech, and in October 2011 urged Conservative MPs to support gay marriage.[253]

In November 2012, Cameron and Nick Clegg agreed to fast-track legislation for introducing same-sex marriage.[254]Cameron stated that he wanted to give religious groups the ability to host gay marriage ceremonies, and that he did not want to exclude gay people from a “great institution”.[255] In 2013, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 became law despite opposition from more than half of his fellow Conservative MPs, including Cabinet ministers Owen Paterson andDavid Jones.[256] He also subsequently appointed two women who had voted against same-sex marriage as ministers in theGovernment Equalities Office, Nicky Morgan and Caroline Dinenage following the 2015 general election.[257]

In August 2013, he rejected calls by Stephen Fry and others to strip Russia from hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics due to its anti-gay laws.[258] Cameron did not attend the games but denied it was a boycott in protest at Russia’s laws, having previously raised the issue of gay rights in the country with Vladimir Putin.[259]


Cameron said immigration from outside the EU should be subject to annual limits. He said in July 2013 that “in the last decade we have had an immigration policy that’s completely lax. The pressure it puts on our public services and communities is too great.”[260] In 2015, The Independent reported, “The Conservatives have failed spectacularly to deliver their pledge to reduce net migration to less than 100,000 a year. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced a net flow of 298,000 migrants to the UK in the 12 months to September 2014—up from 210,000 in the previous year.”[261]

Allegations of recreational drug use

During the leadership election, allegations were made that Cameron had used cannabis and cocaine recreationally before becoming an MP.[262] Pressed on this point during the BBC television programme Question Time, Cameron expressed the view that everybody was allowed to “err and stray” in their past.[263] During his 2005 Conservative leadership campaign he addressed the question of drug consumption by remarking that “I did lots of things before I came into politics which I shouldn’t have done. We all did.”[263]

Defence cuts

Cameron visits British troops inAfghanistan, 3 October 2014

In 2014, Cameron dismissed warnings that his cuts to the UK defence budget had left it less than a “first class-player in terms of defence” and no longer a “full partner” to the United States.[264]

In the July 2015 budget Chancellor George Osborne announced that the UK defence spending would meet the NATO target of 2% of GDP.[265]

Criticism of use of statutory instruments

In January 2016, The Independent said there had been an increase of over 50% in the use of statutory instruments since 2010. Lord Jopling deplored the behaviour which he called an abuse whilst The Baroness Smith of Basildon asked whether it was the start of “constitutional Gerrymandering.”[266]

Political relationships

Plots against leadership

In the 2012 local elections, the Conservative Party’s share of the vote fell from 35% to 31%, losing control of several councils including Plymouth, Southampton, Harlow, Redditch, Worcester and Great Yarmouth, after a difficult few months for the government, with Labour increasing its lead in the polls. This led to concerns from Conservative MPs about Cameron’s leadership and his electability. David Davies, the chairman of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, accused the Tory leadership of “incompetence” and hinted that it could risk Cameron’s leadership.[267] Nadine Dorries warned the Prime Minister that a leadership challenge could happen.[268]

Later that year, Brian Binley openly said that Cameron’s leadership was like being a “maid” to the Liberal Democrats, and accused him of leading the party to defeat. In January 2013 it was revealed that Adam Afriyie was planning his own bid for the Tory leadership with the support of fellow MPs Mark Field, Bill Wiggin, Chris Heaton-Harris, Patrick Mercer, Jonathan Djanogly and Dan Byles. The Times and ConservativeHome revealed that a ‘rebel reserve’ of 55 Tory MPs gave firm pledges to a co-ordinating MP to support a motion of ‘no confidence’ and write to Brady simultaneously, which would be enough MPs to trigger a vote of no confidence as the level of MPs needed to trigger such vote is 46.[269] Andrew Bridgenopenly called for a vote of confidence in Cameron’s leadership and claimed that the Prime Minister had a “credibility problem” but he dropped his bid for a contest a year later.[270]

Cameron and Andy Coulson

In 2007 Cameron appointed Andy Coulson, former editor of the News of the World, as his director of communications. Coulson had resigned as the paper’s editor following the conviction of a reporter in relation to illegal phone hacking, although stating that he knew nothing about it.[271][272] In June 2010 Downing Street confirmed Coulson’s annual salary as £140,000, the highest pay of any special adviser to UK Government.[273]

In January 2011 Coulson left his post, saying coverage of the phone-hacking scandal was making it difficult to give his best to the job.[271] In July 2011 he was arrested and questioned by police in connection with further allegations of illegal activities at the News of the World, and released on bail. Despite a call to apologise for hiring Coulson by the leader of the opposition, Cameron defended the appointment, saying that he had taken a conscious choice to give someone who had screwed up a second chance.[274] On 20 July, in a special parliamentary session at the House of Commons, arranged to discuss the News International phone hacking scandal, Cameron said that he “regretted the furore” that had resulted from his appointment of Coulson, and that “with hindsight” he would not have hired him.[275] Coulson was detained and charged with perjury by Strathclyde Police on 30 May 2012.[276][277] Coulson was convicted of conspiracy to hack phones in June 2014. Prior to the jury handing down their verdict, Cameron issued a “full and frank” apology for hiring him, saying “I am extremely sorry that I employed him. It was the wrong decision and I am very clear about that.” The judge hearing Coulson’s trial was critical of the prime minister, pondering whether the intervention was out of ignorance or deliberate, and demanded an explanation.[278]

Cameron and Lord Ashcroft

Although Lord Ashcroft played a significant role in the 2010 election, he wasn’t offered a ministerial post.[279] In June 2012, shortly before a major Tory rebellion on House of Lords reform,[280] journalist Peter Oborne credited Ashcroft with “stopping the Coalition working” by moving policy on Europe, welfare, education, taxation to the right.[279] According to Oborne, Ashcroft, owner of both the ConservativeHome and PoliticsHome websites and a “brutal critic of the Coalition from the start”, had established “megaphone presence” in the on-line media. He believes Cameron’s philosophy of liberal conservatism has been destroyed by “coordinated attacks on the Coalition” and “the two parties are no longer trying to pretend that they are governing together.”[279]

In The Observer, Andrew Rawnsley commented that he believes that Ashcroft uses carefully timed opinion polls to “generate publicity”, “stir trouble for the prime minister” and influence the direction of the party.[281] In 2015 Ashcroft released Call Me Dave, an unauthorised biography of Cameron written with journalist Isabel Oakeshott, which attracted significant media attention for various lurid allegations about Cameron’s time at university. The book includes an anonymous anecdote about Cameron, now referred to as Piggate. No evidence for the anecdote has been produced. Many commentators have described the accusations as a “revenge job” by Ashcroft, who was not offered a senior role in government when Cameron came to power in 2010.[282][283] Ashcroft initially claimed the book was “not about settling scores”, while Oakeshott said that they had held back publication until after the 2015 General Election to avoid damaging Cameron and the Conservatives’ electoral chances.[284] Ashcroft subsequently admitted that the initiation allegations “may have been case of mistaken identity” and has stated that he has a personal “beef” with Cameron.[282][283][285][286][287]Cameron later went on to deny these allegations and stated that Ashcroft’s reasons for writing the book were clear and the public could see clearly through it.[288]

Standing in opinion polls

Before premiership

In the first month of Cameron’s leadership, the Conservative Party’s standing in opinion polls rose, with several pollsters placing it ahead of the ruling Labour Party. While the Conservative and Labour Parties drew even in early spring 2006, following the May 2006 local elections various polls once again generally showed Conservative leads.[289][290]

When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007, Labour moved ahead and its ratings grew steadily at Cameron’s expense, an ICM poll[291] in July showing Labour with a seven-point lead. An ICM poll[292][293] in September saw Cameron rated the least popular of the three main party leaders. A YouGov poll for Channel 4 one week later, after the Labour Party Conference, extended the Labour lead to 11 points, prompting further speculation of an early election.[294]

Following the Conservative Party Conference in October 2007, the Conservatives drew level with Labour.[295] When Brown declared he would not call an election for the autumn,[296] a decline in his and Labour’s standings followed. At the end of the year a series of polls showed improved support for the Conservatives giving them an 11-point lead over Labour. By May 2008, following the worst local election performance from the Labour Party in 40 years, the Conservative lead was up to 26 points, the largest since 1968.[297]

In late 2009, the Conservative lead decreased and by January 2010 some polls were predicting a hung parliament, which was the eventual result.[298]

During premiership, 2010–16

First term

A YouGov poll on party leaders conducted on 9–10 June 2011 found 44% of the electorate thought he was doing well and 50% thought he was doing badly, whilst 38% thought he would be the best PM and 35% did not know.[299]

Until his veto on treaty changes to the European Union in December 2011 amid the Eurozone crisis, most opinion polls that year had shown a slim Labour lead. Many opinion polls showed that the majority of voters felt that Cameron made the right decision. Subsequent opinion polls have shown a narrow lead for the Conservatives ahead of Labour.[300]

In the run up to the 2015 election, Cameron achieved his first net positive approval rating in four years, with a YouGov poll finding 47% of voters thought he was doing well as prime minister compared with 46% who thought he was doing badly.[301]

Second term

Protesters outside 10 Downing Street calling for Cameron to resign over the Panama Papers scandal, 9 April 2016

In September 2015, a Opinium poll had similar results to the one shortly before the election, with voters split with 42% who approved of him and 41% who did not.[302]Under their new leader Jeremy Corbyn, Labour support continued to lag behind that of the Conservatives.[303][304] Cameron had significantly better net approval ratings in polls conducting in December and January (getting -6 in both) than Corbyn (who got -38 and -39).[305] However, following the Panama Papers leak in April 2016, his personal approval ratings fell below Corbyn’s.[306]


Following the European Union membership referendum of 2016, Cameron announced his intention to resign as Prime Minister before the party’s autumn conference, starting 2 October that year.[138] Subsequently, the Party scheduled theleadership election for 9 September 2016. [307]

Cameron has made it clear that the next Prime Minister should activate article 50 and begin negotiations with the EU.[308]The PM was in Brussels on 28 June 2016 for his final summit with the EU and planned to address members. “I’ll be explaining that Britain will be leaving the European Union but I want that process to be as constructive as possible …”.[309]

Personal life


Cameron is married to Samantha Gwendoline Sheffield, the daughter of Sir Reginald Sheffield, 8th Baronet, and Annabel Lucy Veronica Jones (now Viscountess Astor). A Marlborough College school friend of Cameron’s sister Clare, Samantha accepted Clare’s invitation to accompany the Cameron family on holiday in Tuscany, Italy, after graduating from Bristol School of Creative Arts. It was then David and Samantha’s romance started. They were married on 1 June 1996 at the Church of St Augustine of Canterbury, East Hendred, Oxfordshire, five years before Cameron was elected to parliament.[6]The Camerons have had four children. Their first, Ivan Reginald Ian, was born on 8 April 2002 in Hammersmith and Fulham, London, with a rare combination of cerebral palsy and a form of severe epilepsy called Ohtahara syndrome, requiring round-the-clock care. Recalling the receipt of this news, Cameron was quoted as saying: “The news hits you like a freight train … You are depressed for a while because you are grieving for the difference between your hopes and the reality. But then you get over that, because he’s wonderful.”[310] Ivan was cared for at the specialist NHS Cheyne Day Centre in West London, which closed shortly after he left it. Ivan died at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London, on 25 February 2009, aged six.[311]

Samantha Cameron in a saree with David Cameron welcoming Indian Prime Minister Modi, 13 November 2015

The Camerons have two daughters, Nancy Gwen (born 2004) and Florence Rose Endellion (born 24 August 2010),[312] and a son, Arthur Elwen (born 2006).[313]Cameron took paternity leave when his son was born, and this decision received broad coverage.[314] It was also stated that Cameron would be taking paternity leave after his second daughter was born.[312] His second daughter was born on 24 August 2010, three weeks prematurely, while the family was on holiday in Cornwall. Her third given name, Endellion, is taken from the village of St Endellion near where the Camerons were holidaying.[315][316]

In early May 2008, the Camerons decided to enrol their daughter Nancy at a stateprimary school. For three years before that they had been attending its associated church, St Mary Abbots,[317] near the Cameron family home in North Kensington.[318] Cameron’s constituency home is in Dean, Oxfordshire, and the Camerons are reported to be key members of the Chipping Norton set.[319]

On 8 September 2010, it was announced that Cameron would miss Prime Minister’s Questions in order to fly to southern France to see his father, Ian Cameron, who had suffered a stroke with coronary complications. Later that day, with David and other family members at his bedside, Ian died.[320] On 17 September 2010, Cameron attended a private ceremony for the funeral of his father in Berkshire, which prevented him from hearing the address of Pope Benedict XVI in Westminster Hall, an occasion he would otherwise have attended.[321]

Inheritance and family wealth

In October 2010, David Cameron inherited £300,000 from his father’s will. The Camerons’ family fortune was built up by his late father, Ian Cameron, who had worked as a stockbroker in the City. Ian Cameron used multimillion-pound investment funds based in offshore tax havens, such as Jersey, Panama City, and Geneva, to increase the family wealth. In 1979 he took advantage of the end of capital controls made by Margaret Thatcher during her first month in power, which made it legal to take money out of the country without it being taxed or subject to any financial controls by the UK government.[322][323][324][325] In 1982, Ian Cameron created the Panamanian Blairmore Holdings Inc. an offshore investmentfund, valued at about $20 million in 1988, “not liable to taxation on its income or capital gains”, which used bearer sharesuntil 2006.[326]

In April 2016, following the Panama Papers financial documents leak, David Cameron faced calls to resign after he was forced to admit that he and his wife Samantha profited from Ian Cameron’s offshore fund.[327] He owned £31,500 of shares in the fund and sold them for a profit of £19,000 shortly before becoming Prime Minister in 2010.[328] The former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, even argued that Cameron “shouldn’t just resign, he should be sent to prison”.[329] David Cameron argued that the fund was set up in Panama so that people who wanted to invest in dollar-denominated shares and companies could do so.[330] Cameron had personally intervened in 2013 to water down a planned EU crackdown on tax evasion.[331]

Thousands of protesters assembled in London on 9 April 2016 to demand Cameron’s resignation.[332][333][334] A second protest demanding Cameron’s resignation followed on 16 April 2016.[335][336]

An estimate of his worth is £3.2 million, though this figure excludes the six-figure legacies Cameron is expected to inherit from both sides of his family.[337]


Cameron, Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, François Hollande, and others watch the penalty shootout of the2012 UEFA Champions League Final. The faces of Cameron, Obama, and Merkel reflect the outcome of the match – a Chelsea victory on penalties.

Before becoming prime minister, Cameron regularly used his bicycle to commute to work. In early 2006, he was photographed cycling to work, followed by his driver in a car carrying his belongings. His Conservative Party spokesperson subsequently said that this was a regular arrangement for Cameron at the time.[338] Cameron is an occasional jogger and in 2009 raised funds for charities by taking part in the Oxford 5K and the Great Brook Run.[339]

Cameron supports Aston Villa,[340] although at a press conference on 25 April 2015 jokingly claimed he would rather people support West Ham United – who wear the same colours as Villa – than Manchester United. This “brain fade” (as Cameron himself called his slip-up) received widespread Twitter coverage under the name ‘#villagate’.[341]Although a Villa supporter, he was photographed celebrating Chelsea‘s victory over Bayern Munich in the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final. The match took place during the 38th G8 summit, and Cameron celebrated an English victory while in the same room as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a noted football fan.[342][343][344]

Cameron is also a keen cricket fan and has appeared on Test Match Special.[345]


At a Q&A in August 2013, Cameron described himself as a practising Christian and an active member of the Church of England.[346] On religious faith in general he has said: “I do think that organised religion can get things wrong but the Church of England and the other churches do play a very important role in society.”[347] He says he considers the Bible “a sort of handy guide” on morality.[348] He views Britain as a “Christian country” and aims to put faith back into politics.[349]

Titles and honours


Styles of
David Cameron
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Reference style The Prime Minister
Spoken style Prime Minister
Alternative style Mr Cameron or Sir
  • David Cameron Esq (1966–2001)
  • David Cameron MP (2001–2005)
  • The Rt Hon David Cameron MP (2005–)


Conservative (UK)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Conservative Party
Leader David Cameron MP(outgoing)
Chairman Lord Feldman of Elstree
Deputy Chairman Robert Halfon MP
Lords Leader Baroness Stowell of Beeston
Leadership Candidates TBC
Founded 1834
Preceded by Tory Party, Liberal Unionist Party, National Liberal Party
Headquarters Conservative Campaign HQ
4 Matthew Parker Street,London, SW1H 9NP,England
Youth wing Conservative Future
Women’s wing Conservative Women’s Organisation
Overseas wing Conservatives Abroad
Membership  (2014) 149,800 [1]
Ideology Conservatism[2]
Economic liberalism[3]
Soft Euroscepticism[3][4][5]
Liberal conservatism[6][7][8]
Political position Centre-right[9][10][11]
European affiliation Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists
International affiliation International Democrat Union
European Parliament group European Conservatives and Reformists
Colours      Blue
House of Commons[12]

330 / 650

House of Lords[13]

244 / 800

European Parliament

20 / 73

Scottish Parliament

31 / 129

Welsh Assembly

11 / 60

NI Assembly

0 / 108

London Assembly

8 / 25

Local government[14]

8,779 / 20,565

Police and Crime Commissioners

20 / 40

Directly-elected Mayors

0 / 17


The Conservative Party, officially the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a political party in the United Kingdom. It is the majority party in the House of Commons, having won 330 of the 650 seats in the 2015 general election.[15]Between 2010–15, it was the largest single party with 304 Members of Parliament and governed in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. It is the largest party in local government with 8,296 councillors.[14]

The Conservative Party was founded in 1834 from the Tory Party—giving rise to the Conservatives’ colloquial name of Tories—and was one of two dominant parties in the 19th century, along with the Liberal Party. In the 1920s, the Liberal vote greatly diminished and the Labour Party became the Conservatives’ main rivals. Conservative Prime Ministers led governments for 57 years of the 20th century, including Winston Churchill (1940–45, 1951–55) and Margaret Thatcher (1979–90). Thatcher’s tenure led to wide-rangingeconomic liberalisation and saw the Conservatives become the mosteurosceptic of the three major parties.

The Conservatives are the joint-second largest British party in the European Parliament, with twenty MEPs,[16] and sit with the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) parliamentary group. The party is a member of theAlliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) Europarty and the International Democrat Union (IDU).

The party is the second-largest in the Scottish Parliament and third-largest in the Welsh Assembly. The Conservatives were formerly allied to the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in Northern Ireland but there is now a separateNorthern Ireland Conservative party similar to the Welsh and ScottishConservative parties.[17] The party is also organised in Gibraltar.


Sir Robert Peel, twicePrime Minister of the United Kingdom and founder of the Conservative Party, as well as the ‘most considered’ first Prime Minister of the UK.


The Conservative Party traces its origins to a faction, rooted in the 18th-century Whig Party, that coalesced around William Pitt the Younger (Prime Minister of Great Britain 1783–1801 and 1804–1806). They were known as “Independent Whigs”, “Friends of Mr Pitt”, or “Pittites”. After Pitt’s death the term “Tory” came into use. This was an allusion to the Tories, a political grouping that had existed from 1678, but which had no organisational continuity with the Pittite party. From about 1812 on the name “Tory” was commonly used for the newer party.[18]

The term “Conservative” was suggested as a title for the party by a magazine article by J. Wilson Croker in the Quarterly Review in 1830. The name immediately caught on and was officially adopted under the aegis of Sir Robert Peel around 1834. Peel is acknowledged as the founder of the Conservative Party, which he created with the announcement of theTamworth Manifesto. The term “Conservative Party” rather than Tory was the dominant usage by 1845.[19][20]

Conservatives and Unionists (1867–1965)[edit]

Sir Winston Churchill, twice Prime Minister of the
United Kingdom.

The widening of the electoral franchise in the 19th century forced the Conservative Party to popularise its approach under Lord Derby and Benjamin Disraeli, who carried through their own expansion of the franchise with the Reform Act of 1867. In 1886 the party formed an alliance with Lord Hartington (later the 8th Duke of Devonshire) and Joseph Chamberlain‘s new Liberal Unionist Party and, under the statesmen Lord Salisbury and Arthur Balfour, held power for all but three of the following twenty years before suffering a heavy defeat in 1906when it split over the issue of free trade. In 1912, the Liberal Unionists merged with the Conservative party. In Ireland, the Irish Unionist Alliance had been formed in 1891 which merged anti-Home Rule Unionists into one political movement. Its MPs took the Conservative whip at Westminster, and in essence formed the Irish wing of the party until 1922.

First World War[edit]

The Conservatives served with the Liberals in an all-party coalition government during World War I, and the coalition continued under the Liberal prime minister David Lloyd George (with half of the Liberals) until 1922. Keohane finds that the Conservatives were bitterly divided before 1914, especially on the issue of Irish Unionism and the experience of three consecutive election losses. However the war pulled the party together, allowing it to emphasise patriotism as it found new leadership and worked out its positions on the Irish question, socialism, electoral reform, and the issue of intervention in the economy. The fresh emphasis on anti-Socialism was its response to the growing strength of the Labour Party. When electoral reform was an issue it worked to protect its base in rural England.[21] It aggressively sought women voters in the 1920s, often relying on patriotic themes.[22]

1929 poster attacking theLabour Party


In 1922, Bonar Law and Stanley Baldwin led the break-up of the coalition and the Conservatives governed until 1923, when a minority Labour government led by Ramsay MacDonald came to power. The Conservatives regained power in 1924 and remained in power for the full five-year term. They were defeated in 1929 as a minority Labour government took office. In 1931, following the collapse of the Labour minority government, it entered another coalition, which was dominated by the Conservatives with some support from fractions of both the Liberals and Labour party (National Labour and Liberal Nationals).[23] In May 1940 a more balanced coalition was formed,[23] the National Government, which, under the leadership of Winston Churchill, saw the United Kingdom through World War II. However, the party lost the 1945 general election to the resurgentLabour Party.


Main article: Postwar Britain

Popular dissatisfaction[edit]

In the late 1940s the Conservative Party exploited and incited growing public anger at food rationing, scarcity, controls, austerity, and omnipresent government bureaucracy. They used the dissatisfaction with the socialist and egalitarian policies of the Labour Party to rally middle-class supporters and build a political comeback that won the 1951 general election. Their appeal was especially effective to housewives, who faced more difficult shopping conditions after the war than during the war.[24]

Modernising the party[edit]

In 1947 the party published its Industrial Charter which marked its acceptance of the “post-war consensus” on the mixed economy and labour rights.[25] David Maxwell Fyfe chaired a committee into Conservative Party organisation that resulted in the Maxwell Fyfe Report (1948–49). The report shifted the balance of electoral funding from the candidate to the party, with the intention of broadening the diversity of MPs. In practice, it may have had the effect of lending more power toconstituency parties and making candidates more uniform.[26]

The success of the Conservative party in reorganising itself was validated by its victory in the 1951 election. Churchill, the party leader, brought in a Party Chairman to modernise the creaking institution. Lord Woolton was a successful department store owner and wartime Minister of Food. As Party Chairman 1946–55, he rebuilt the local organisations with an emphasis on membership, money, and a unified national propaganda appeal on critical issues. To broaden the base of potential candidates, the national party provided financial aid to candidates, and assisted the local organisations in raising local money. Lord Woolton emphasized a rhetoric that characterised the opponents as “Socialist” rather than “Labour”. The libertarian influence of Professor Friedrich Hayek‘s 1944 best-seller Road to Serfdom was apparent in the younger generation, but that took another quarter century to have a policy impact. By 1951, Labour had worn out its welcome in the middle classes; its factions were bitterly embroiled. Conservatives were ready to govern again.[27]

With a narrow win in the 1951 general election, Churchill was back. Although he was aging rapidly, he had national and global prestige. Apart from rationing, which was ended, most of the welfare state enacted by Labour were accepted by the Conservatives and became part of the “post-war consensus” that would later be satirised as Butskellism, and which lasted until the 1970s.[28][29] The Conservatives were conciliatory toward unions, but they did de-nationalise the steel and road haulage industries in 1953.[30] During the Conservatives’ 13 years in office, pensions went up by 49% in real terms, sickness and unemployment benefits by 76% in real terms, and supplementary benefits by 46% in real terms. However, family allowances fell by 15% in real terms during that period.[31]

The Party won in 1955 and 1959 with ever larger majorities. Conservative prime ministers Churchill, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan and Sir Alec Douglas-Home promoted relatively liberal trade regulations and less state involvement throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. They oversaw a period of economic prosperity, with Macmillan proclaiming during the 1959 general election that Britain had ‘never had it so good’.

In 1958, Geoffrey Howe co-authored the report A Giant’s Strength published by the Inns of Court Conservative Association. The report argued that the unions had become too powerful and that their legal privileges ought to be curtailed. Ian Macleod discouraged the authors from publicising the report. Macmillan believed that trade union votes had contributed towards the 1951 and 1955 victories and thought that it “would be inexpedient to adopt any policy involving legislation which would alienate this support”.[32]

Macmillan’s bid to join the European Economic Community in early 1963 was blocked by French President Charles de Gaulle. The period saw the decline of the UK as a prominent world leader, with the loss of practically the entire empire and a laggard economy.

Following controversy over the selections of Harold Macmillan and Sir Alec Douglas-Home via a process of consultation known as the ‘Magic Circle’,[33][34] a formal election process was created and the first leadership election was held in 1965. Of the three candidates, Edward Heath won with 150 votes to Reginald Maudling’s 133 and Enoch Powell’s 15.[35]

Edward Heath[edit]

Edward Heath, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1970–1974)

Edward Heath‘s 1970–74 government was known for taking the UK into the EEC, although the right-wing of the party objected to his failure to control the trade unions at a time when a declining British industry saw many strikes, as well as a recession which started in 1973 and lasted for two years.

Since accession to the EU, British membership has been a source of heated debate within the Conservative party.

Heath had come to power in June 1970 and the last possible date for the next general election was not until mid-1975.[36] However a general election was held in February 1974 in a bid to win public support during a national emergency caused by the miners’ strike. However, Heath’s attempt to win a second term in power at this “snap” election failed, as a deadlock result left no party with an overall majority. The Conservatives had more votes than Labour, who had four more seats. Heath resigned within days, after failing to gain Liberal Party support in order to form a coalition government, paving the way for Harold Wilson and Labour to return to power as a minority government. Heath’s hopes of returning to power later in the year were ended when Labour won the October 1974 election with an overall majority of three seats.[37]

Margaret Thatcher[edit]

Margaret Thatcher,[38]Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979–1990).

Loss of power weakened Heath’s control over the party and Margaret Thatcher deposed him in the 1975 leadership election. The UK in the 1970s had seen sustained high inflationrates, which were above 20% at the time of the leadership election, subsequently falling to below 10%; unemployment had risen, and over the winter of 1978–79 there was a series of strikes known as the “Winter of Discontent“.[39] Thatcher led her party to victory in the 1979 general election with a manifesto which concentrated on the party’s philosophy rather than presenting a ‘shopping list’ of policies.[40]

As prime minister, Thatcher focused on establishing a political ideology that became known as the “New Right” or Thatcherism, based on social and economic ideas from the United States. Thatcher believed that too much social-democratic-oriented government policy was leading to a long-term decline in the British economy. As a result, her government pursued a programme of economic liberalism, adopting a free-market approach to public services based on the sale of publicly owned industries and utilities, as well as a reduction in trade union power. She held the belief that the existing trend of Unions was bringing economic progress to a standstill by enforcing “wildcat” strikes, keeping wages artificially high and forcing unprofitable industries to stay open.

Thatcher led the Conservatives to two further election victories with landslide majorities in 1983 and 1987. She was greatly admired by her supporters for her leadership in the Falklands War of 1982—which coincided with a dramatic boost in her popularity—and for policies such as giving the right to council house tenants to buy their council house at a discount on market value. She was also deeply unpopular in certain sections of society due to unemployment, which reached its highest level since the 1930s, peaking at over 3 million following her economic reforms, and her response to the miners’ strike. Unemployment had doubled between 1979 and 1982, largely due to Thatcher’s monetarist battle against inflation.[41][42] At the time of the 1979 election, inflation had been at 9% or under for the previous year, having fallen under Callaghan, then rose to over 20% in the first two years of the Thatcher government, but it had fallen again to 5.8% by the start of 1983 (it continued to be under 7% until 1990).[43] The UK economy benefitted in the first Thatcher term by tax income from North Sea oil coming on stream.[44]

Conservative logo during the Thatcher, Major, Hague, Duncan Smith and Howard eras

The period of unpopularity of the Conservatives in the early 1980s coincided with a crisis in the Labour Party which now formed the opposition. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) was formed in 1981 and consisted of more than 20 breakaway Labour MPs, who quickly formed the SDP-Liberal Alliance with the Liberal Party. By the turn of 1982, the SDP-Liberal Alliance was ahead of the Conservatives in the opinion polls, but victory in the Falklands war in June that year, along with the recovering British economy, saw the Conservatives returning quickly to the top of the opinion polls and winning the 1983 general election with a landslide majority, due to a split opposition vote.[41]

Thatcher now faced, arguably, her most serious rival yet after the 1983 election, when Michael Foot resigned as Labour leader and was succeeded by Neil Kinnock. With a new leader at the helm, Labour were clearly determined to topple the Conservatives at the next election and for virtually the entirety of Thatcher’s second government it was looking a very serious possibility, as the lead in the opinion polls constantly saw a change in leadership from the Conservatives to Labour, with the Alliance occasionally scraping into first place.[45]

By the time of the election in June 1987 the economy was stronger, with lower inflation and falling unemployment and Thatcher secured her third successive election victory with a second, though smaller, landslide majority.[46]

The introduction of the Community Charge (known by its opponents as the poll tax) in 1989 is often cited as contributing to her political downfall. The summer of 1989 saw her fall behind Neil Kinnock’s Labour in the opinion polls for the first time since 1986, and her party’s fall in popularity continued into 1990. By the second half of that year, opinion polls were showing that Labour had a lead of up to 16 points over the Conservatives and they faced a tough 18 months ahead of them if they were to prevent Kinnock’s ambition to be prime minister from being realised. At the same time, the economy was sliding into another recession.[45]

Internal party tensions led to a leadership challenge by the Conservative MP Michael Heseltine; and, after months of speculation about her future as prime minister, she resigned on 28 November 1990, making way for a new Conservative leader more likely to win the next general election in the interests of party unity.[47]

John Major[edit]

John Major won the party leadership contest on 27 November 1990, and his appointment led to an almost automatic boost in Conservative fortunes. A MORI poll six days before Mrs Thatcher’s resignation had shown the Conservatives to be 11 points behind Labour, but within two months the Conservatives had returned to the top of the opinion polls with a slim lead.[45]

An election had to be held within the next 18 months and the UK economy was sliding into recession, but 1991 was a year of electoral uncertainty as the Conservatives and Labour regularly swapped places at the top of the opinion polls, and Major resisted Neil Kinnock’s numerous calls for an immediate election.[45]

The election was finally held on 9 April 1992 and the Conservatives won, even though the economy was still in recession and most of the polls had predicted either a Labour win or a hung parliament. Major’s vigorous campaigning, notably his claim that the UK would have higher prices and higher taxes under a Labour government, was seen to have been crucial in his election win (in which he became the first – and as of 2015, only – prime minister to attract 14,000,000 votes in a general election), as was a high profile campaign by The Sun newspaper against Labour leader Neil Kinnock, who resigned in the aftermath of the election to be succeeded by John Smith. The Party also touched upon the issue of immigration, claiming that under Labour, immigration would rise hugely.[48]

The UK economy was deep in recession by this stage and remained so until the end of the year. The pound sterling was forced out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism on 16 September 1992, a day thereafter referred to as Black Wednesday.

Soon after approximately one million householders faced re-possession of their homes during a recession that saw a sharp rise in unemployment, taking it close to 3,000,000. The party subsequently lost much of its reputation for good financial stewardship although the end of the recession was declared in April 1993[49] bringing economic recovery and a rise in employment.

Rail modal share (rail’s share of total travel) 1952–2014[50]

From 1994 to 1997, Major privatised British rail, splitting it up into franchises to be run by the private sector. Its success is hotly debated, with a large increase in passenger numbers and investment in the network balanced by worries about the level of subsidy.

The party was plagued by internal division and infighting, mainly over the issue over policy towards the European Union. The party’s eurosceptic wing, represented by MPs such as John Redwood, opposed further EU integration, whilst the party’s pro-European wing, represented by those such as Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke, was broadly supportive. The issue of the creation of a single currency also inflamed tensions, and these would continue to dog the party until the early 2000s (decade). These divisions gave off an impression of a divided party, which had lost touch with the voters.

Major also had to survive a leadership challenge in 1995 by the Secretary of State for Wales, the aforementioned John Redwood. He survived, but Redwood received 89 votes from MPs, as well as the backing of the Sun newspaper, which described the choice as being between “Redwood or Deadwood”. This further undermined Major’s influence in the Party.[51]

The Conservative government was also increasingly accused in the media of “sleaze“. Their support reached its lowest ebb in late 1994, after the death of Labour Party leader John Smith and the election of Tony Blair as his successor, when Labour had up to 60% of the vote in opinion polls and had a lead of some 30 points ahead of the Conservatives. The Labour lead was gradually narrowed over the next two years, as the Conservatives gained some credit for the strong economic recovery and fall in unemployment. But as the 1997 general election loomed, despite their high profile New Labour, New Danger campaign, it was still looking certain that Labour would win.[45]

An effective opposition campaign by the Labour Party culminated in a landslide defeat for the Conservatives in 1997 that was Labour’s largest ever parliamentary victory. The 1997 election left the Conservative Party with MPs in just England, all remaining seats in Scotland and Wales having been lost and not a single seat having been gained anywhere.

Back in opposition: William Hague[edit]

John Major resigned as party leader after the Conservatives were voted out of power and was succeeded by William Hague. Though Hague was a strong debater, a Gallup poll for The Daily Telegraph found that two-thirds of voters regarded him as “a bit of a wally”,[52] for headlines such as his claim that he drank 14 pints (8 litres, 1.75 gallons) of beer in a single day in his youth. He was also criticised for attending the Notting Hill Carnival and for wearing a baseball cap in public in what were seen as poor attempts to appeal to younger voters.[53] Shortly before the 2001 election, Hague was much maligned for a speech in which he predicted that a re-elected Labour government would turn the UK into a “foreign land”.[54] The BBC also reported that the Conservative peer Lord Taylor criticised Hague for not removing the whip fromJohn Townend, a Conservative MP, after the latter made a speech in which he said the British were becoming “a mongrel race”, although Hague did reject Townend’s views.[55]

The 2001 election resulted in a net gain of just one seat for the Conservative Party, just months after the fuel protests of September 2000 had seen the Conservatives briefly take a narrow lead over Labour in the opinion polls.[45]

Having privately set himself a target of 209 seats, matching Labour’s performance in 1983 — a target which he missed by 43  — William Hague resigned soon after.

Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard[edit]

Iain Duncan Smith (2001–2003) (often known as IDS and by satirists as “the quiet man”) is a strong Eurosceptic, but the issue did not define Duncan Smith’s leadership, though during his tenure Europe ceased to be an issue of division in the party as it united behind calls for a referendum on the proposed European Union Constitution.

However, before he could lead the party in a general election Duncan Smith lost the vote on a motion of no confidence by MPs who felt that the party would not be returned to government under his leadership. This was despite the Conservative support equalling that of Labour in the months leading up to his departure from the leadership.[45]

Michael Howard then stood for the leadership unopposed on 6 November 2003.

Under Howard in the 2005 general election, the Conservative Party increased their total vote share by around 0.7% (up to 32.4%) and – more significantly – their number of parliamentary seats by 33 (up to 198 seats). This gain accompanied a larger fall in the Labour vote, and the election reduced Labour’s majority from 167 to 68 and its share of the vote to 35.2%.[56] The campaign, based on the slogan “Are you thinking what we’re thinking?”, was designed by Australian pollsterLynton Crosby. The day after the election, on 6 May, Howard announced that he did not feel it was right to continue as leader after defeat in the general election, also saying that he would be too old to lead the party into another campaign and would therefore step down after allowing time for the party to amend its leadership election rules.

David Cameron (in opposition and in government)[edit]

David Cameron won the 2005 leadership election. Cameron beat his closest rival, David Davis, by a margin of more than two to one, taking 134,446 votes to 64,398. He then announced his intention to reform and realign the Conservatives, saying they needed to change the way they looked, felt, thought and behaved, advocating a more centre-right stance as opposed to their recent staunchly right-wing platform.[57] Although Cameron’s views are probably to the left of the party membership and he has sought to make the Conservative brand more attractive to young, socially liberal voters,[58] he has also expressed his admiration for Margaret Thatcher, describing himself as a “big fan of Thatcher’s”, though he questions whether that makes him a “Thatcherite”. For most of 2006 and the first half of 2007, polls showed leads over Labour for the Conservatives.[59]

Polls became more volatile in the summer of 2007 with the accession of Gordon Brown as Prime Minister, although polls gave the Conservatives a lead after October of that year and, by May 2008, with the UK’s economy sliding into its first recession since 1992, and a week after local council elections, a YouGov poll commissioned by The Sun newspaper was published giving the Conservative Party a 26-point lead over Labour, its largest lead since 1968.[60] The Conservatives gained control of the London mayoralty for the first time in May 2008 after Boris Johnson defeated the Labour incumbent,Ken Livingstone.[61]

The Conservative lead in the opinion polls had been almost unbroken for nearly three years when Britain finally went to the polls on 6 May 2010, though since the turn of 2010 most polls had shown the Conservative lead as less than 10 points wide. The election ended in a hung parliament with the Conservatives having the most seats (306) but being 20 seats short of an overall majority. Following the resignation of Gordon Brown as prime minister and Labour Party leader five days afterwards, David Cameron was named as the country’s new prime minister and the Conservatives entered government in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats – the first postwar coalition government.[62]

In May 2014 the Conservatives were defeated in the European parliamentary elections coming in third behind the UK Independence Party and Labour. UKIP ended with 24 MEPs, Labour 20, and the Conservatives 19. The result was described by UKIP leader Nigel Farage as “disastrous” for Cameron, and the leaders of the other main parties.[63]

In September 2014 the Unionist side, championed by Labour as well as by the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, won in the Scottish Independence referendum by 55% No to 45% Yes on the question “Should Scotland be an independent country”. This can be seen as a victory for British Unionism, a core part of traditional Conservative ideology, and also for David Cameron as the incumbent Prime Minister.

In the 2015 general election, the Conservatives won a majority of seats in the Commons and formed a single-party government under David Cameron. The party increased its national vote share, becoming the first incumbent party to do so since 1900. The result was unexpected and exceeded even the party leadership’s expectations, as most polls had predicted a hung parliament.[64][65] This was also the first general election since 1992 in which the Conservatives had won an overall majority, although the vote share of 36.9% was lower than the previous four Conservative majority governments under Thatcher and Major.[66]

In June 2016 Cameron announced his intention to resign after he failed to convince the British public to stay in the European Union.


Economic policy[edit]

The party’s reputation for economic stewardship was dealt a blow by Black Wednesday in 1992, in which billions of pounds were spent in an effort to keep the pound within the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) system at an overvalued rate. Combined with the recession of the early 1990s ‘Black Wednesday’ allowed Tony Blair and then-Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to promise greater economic competence.

One concrete economic policy of recent years has been opposition to the European single currency. Anticipating the growing Euroscepticism within his party, John Major negotiated a British opt-out from the single currency in the 1992Maastricht Treaty, although several members of Major’s cabinet, such as Kenneth Clarke, were personally supportive of EMU participation. Following Major’s resignation after the 1997 defeat, each of the four subsequent Conservative leaders, including David Cameron, have positioned the party firmly against the adoption of the euro. This policy is broadly popular with the British electorate.

Following Labour’s victory in the 1997 general election, the Conservative Party opposed Labour’s decision to grant theBank of England independent control of interest rates—on the grounds that it would be a prelude to the abolition of thepound sterling and acceptance of the European single currency, and also expressed concern over the removal of monetary policy from democratic control. However, Bank independence was popular amongst the financial community as it helped to keep inflation low.[67] The Conservatives accepted Labour’s policy in early 2000.[68]

The Conservative Party under David Cameron has redirected its stance on taxation, still committed to the general principle of reducing direct taxation whilst arguing that the country needs a “dynamic and competitive economy”, with the proceeds of any growth shared between both “tax reduction and extra public investment”.

In the wake of the Great Recession of 2008–9, the Conservatives had not ruled out raising taxes, but since coming to power, the 50% top rate of income tax was dropped to 45% in 2013.[69] They have said how they would prefer to cutnational insurance than lower the top rate further. Furthermore, they have reduced government spending, and haveringfenced only international aid, the NHS and education.[70] Details of the cuts to government spending under the Conservative–Liberal coalition can be found in the following article: United Kingdom government austerity programme.

Social policy[edit]

Scarborough Conservative Club.

In recent years, ‘modernisers’ in the party have claimed that the association between social conservatism and the Conservatives (manifest in policies such as tax incentives for married couples, the removal of the link between pensions and earnings, and criticism of public financial support for those who do not work) have played a role in the electoral decline of the party in the 1990s and early 2000s (decade). Since 1997, a debate has continued within the party between ‘modernisers’ such as Alan Duncan,[71] who believe that the Conservatives should modify their public stances on social issues, and ‘traditionalists’ such as Liam Fox [72][73] and Owen Paterson,[74][75] who believe that the party should remain faithful to its traditional conservative platform. This may have resulted in William Hague‘s and Michael Howard‘s pre-election swings to the right in 2001 and 2005,[citation needed] as well as the election of the stop-Kenneth Clarke candidate, Iain Duncan Smith, in 2001. Iain Duncan Smith, however, remains influential. It has been argued by analysts[citation needed]that his Centre for Social Justice has forced Cameron to the right on many issues, particularly crime and social welfare.

The party has strongly criticised Labour’s “state multiculturalism“.[76] Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said in 2008 that multiculturalism had created a “terrible” legacy, a cultural vacuum that has been exploited by “extremists”.[77] However conservative critics such as Peter Hitchens assert that Cameron’s is an equally multicultural outlook[78] and accuse the Conservative Party of promoting what they see as “Islamic extremists.”[79]

Foreign policy[edit]

Margaret Thatcher (second left),Ronald Reagan (far left) and their respective spouses in 1988. Thatcher and Reagan developed a close relationship against the Soviet Union

For much of the 20th century, the Conservative party took a broadly Atlanticiststance in relations with the United States, favouring close ties with the United States and similarly aligned nations such as Canada, Australia and Japan. The Conservatives have generally favoured a diverse range of international alliances, ranging from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the Commonwealth of Nations.

Close US-British relations have been an element of Conservative foreign policy since World War II. Winston Churchill during his 1951–1955 post-war premiership built up a strong relationship with the Eisenhower Administration in the United States. Harold Macmillan demonstrated a similarly close relationship with theDemocratic administration of John F. Kennedy. Though the US–British relationship in foreign affairs has often been termed a ‘Special Relationship‘, a term coined bySir Winston Churchill, this has often been observed most clearly where leaders in each country are of a similar political stripe. The former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher built a close relationship with the American President Ronald Reaganin his opposition to the former Soviet Union, but John Major was less successful in his personal contacts with George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.[citation needed] Out of power and perceived as largely irrelevant by American politicians, Conservative leaders Hague, Duncan-Smith, and Howard each struggled to forge personal relationships with presidents Bill Clinton andGeorge W. Bush. However, the Republican 2008 presidential candidate, John McCain, spoke at the 2006 Conservative Party Conference.[80]

The Conservatives have proposed a Pan-African Free Trade Area, which it says could help entrepreneurial dynamism of African people.[81] The Conservatives have also pledged to increase aid spending to 0.7% of national income by 2013.[81]

David Cameron had sought to distance himself from former US President Bush and his neoconservative foreign policy, calling for a “rebalancing” of US-UK ties[82] and met Barack Obama during his 2008 European tour. Despite traditional links between the UK Conservatives and US Republicans, and between Labour and the Democrats, London Mayor Boris Johnson, a Conservative, endorsed Obama in the 2008 election.

Beyond relations with the United States, the Commonwealth and the EU, the Conservative Party has generally supported a pro free-trade foreign policy within the mainstream of international affairs. The degree to which Conservative Governments have supported interventionist or non-interventionist presidents in the US has often varied with the personal relations between a US President and the British Prime Minister.



Since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the Conservative party has supported the coalition military action inAfghanistan. The Conservative Party believes that success in Afghanistan is defined in terms of the Afghans achieving the capability to maintain their own internal and external security.[83] They have repeatedly criticised the former Labour Government for failing to equip British Forces adequately in the earlier days on the campaign—especially highlighting the shortage of helicopters for British Forces resulting from Gordon Brown’s £1.4bn cut to the helicopter budget in 2004.[84]

Strategic Defence and Security Review[edit]

The Conservative Party believes that in the 21st century defence and security are interlinked. They have pledged to break away from holding a traditional Strategic Defence Review and have committed to carrying out a more comprehensiveStrategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) immediately upon coming into office. This review will include both defence and homeland security related matters. The Labour Government last conducted a review in 1998. To prevent a long gap in the future they have also pledged to hold regular defence reviews every 4–5 years, and if necessary will put this requirement into legislation. Party officials claim that the SDSR will be a major improvement, and will ensure that Britain maintains generic and flexible capability to adapt to any changing threats. It will be a cross-departmental review that will begin with foreign policy priorities and will bring together all the levers of domestic national security policy with overseas interests and defence priorities.[85]

As well as an SDSR, the Conservative Party pledged in 2010 to undertake a fundamental and far reaching review of the procurement process and how defence equipment is provided in Britain. They have pledged to reform the procurement process, compile a Green Paper on Sovereignty Capability, and publish another Defence Industrial Strategy following on from the Defence Industrial Strategy in 2005. The Conservative Party has said that there will be four aims for British defence procurement: to provide the best possible equipment at the best possible price; to streamline the procurement process to ensure the speedy delivery of equipment to the front line; to support our industry jobs at home by increasing defence exports; to provide defence procurement that underpins strategic relationships abroad and; to provide predictability to the defence industry.

The Conservative Party also pledged to increase Britain’s share of the global defence market as Government policy.

Europe and NATO[edit]

The Conservative Party aims to build enhanced bilateral defence relations with key European partners and believes that it is in Britain’s national interest to cooperate fully with all its European neighbours. They have pledged to ensure that any EU military capability must supplement and not supplant British national defence and NATO, and that it is not in the British interest to hand over security to any supranational body.[86]

The Conservatives see it as a priority to encourage all members of the European Union to do more in terms of a commitment to European security at home and abroad.

Regarding the defence role of the European Union, the Conservatives pledged to re-examine some of Britain’s EU Defence commitments to determine their practicality and utility; specifically, to reassess UK participation provisions like Permanent Structured Cooperation, the European Defence Agency and EU Battlegroups to determine if there is any value in Britain’s participation.

The Conservative Party upholds the view that NATO should remain the most important security alliance for United Kingdom.[87] They believe that NATO, which has been the cornerstone of British security for the past 60 years, should continue to have primacy on all issues relating to Europe’s defence, and pledged in 2010 to make NATO reform a key strategic priority.

They have also called on the so-called fighting/funding gap to be changed and have called on the creation of a fairer funding mechanism for NATO’s expeditionary operations. As well as this, the Conservatives believe that there is scope for expanding NATO’s Article V to include new 21st Century threats such as energy and cyber security.

Nuclear weapons[edit]

The 2010 manifesto said the Conservatives will maintain Britain’s continuous at sea, independent, submarine based strategic nuclear deterrent based on the Trident missile system.[86]

Health policy[edit]

In 1945, the Conservatives first declared support for universal healthcare.[88] Since entering office in 2010, they have introduced the Health and Social Care Act, constituting the biggest reformation that the NHS has ever undertaken. However, there has been much criticism and protest about the 2010 government’s actions on the NHS, focussing on budget cuts and privatisation of services. After a 2013 union protest said by police to have been one of the largest protests seen in Manchester, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said that austerity was having a devastating effect, with 21,000 NHS jobs lost over the previous three months alone, and that “The NHS is one of Britain’s finest achievements and we will not allow ministers to destroy, through cuts and privatisation, what has taken generations to build.” The Department of Health responded that there was “absolutely no government policy to privatise NHS services”.[89]

Drug policies[edit]

Views on drug legality and policing vary greatly within the Conservative Party. Some Conservative politicians such as Alan Duncan take the libertarian approach that individual freedom and economic freedom of industry and trade should be respected. Other Conservative politicians, despite being economically liberal, are in favour of full prohibition of the ownership and trade of many drugs. Other Conservatives are in the middle ground, favouring stances such as looser regulation and decriminalisation of some drugs. Legalisation of cannabis for medical uses is favoured by some Conservative politicians, including Boris Johnson.[90]

Education policy[edit]

In education, the Conservatives have pledged to review the National Curriculum, and introduce the English Baccalaureate. The restoration of discipline was also highlighted, as they want it to be easier for pupils to be searched for contraband items, the granting of anonymity to teachers accused by pupils, and the banning of expelled pupils being returned to schools via appeal panels.

In Higher education, the Conservatives have increased tuition fees to £9,000 per year, however have ensured that this will not be paid by anyone until they are earning over £21,000, and that those who fail their studies, will not pay anything at all. The Scottish Conservatives also support the re-introduction of tuition fees in Scotland.

Jobs and welfare policy[edit]

One of the Conservatives’ key policy areas of 2010, was to reduce the number of people in the UK claiming state benefits, and increase the number of people in the workforce. They have stated that all those in the UK claiming incapacity benefit, will face a review of their cases. Until 1999, Conservatives opposed the creation of the National Minimum Wage, citing that they believed it would cost jobs, and businesses would be reticent to start business in the UK from fear of high labour costs.[91] However the party have since pledged support and in the July 2015 Budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced a national living wage of £9/hour, to be introduced by 2020, for those aged 25 and over.[92] They support, and have implemented, the restoration of the link between pensions and earnings, and seek to raise retirement age from 65 to 66.

Energy/climate change policy[edit]

David Cameron brought several ‘green‘ issues to the forefront of his 2010 campaign. These included proposals designed to impose a tax on workplace car parking spaces, a halt to airport growth, a tax on cars with exceptionally poor petrol mileage, and restrictions on car advertising. Many of these policies were implemented in the Coalition – including the ‘Green Deal’[93]

Justice and crime policy[edit]

In 2010, the Conservatives campaigned with the conviction to cut the perceived bureaucracy of the modern police force and pledged greater legal protection to people convicted of defending themselves against intruders. They also supported the creation of a UK Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act 1998, but this was vetoed by their coalition partners theLiberal Democrats. Some Conservatives, particularly within the socially conservative Cornerstone Group, support the re-introduction of the death penalty; although the majority of party members oppose it.

European Union policy[edit]

No subject has proved more divisive in the Conservative Party in recent history than the role of the United Kingdom within the European Union. Though the principal architect of the UK’s entry into the European Communities (which became the European Union) was Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath, and both Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillanfavoured some form of European union, the bulk of contemporary Conservative opinion is opposed to closer economic and particularly political union with the EU. This is a noticeable shift in British politics, as in the 1960s and 1970s the Conservatives were more pro-Europe than the Labour Party. Divisions on Europe came to the fore under the premiership ofMargaret Thatcher (1979–1990) and were cited by several ministers resigning, including Geoffrey Howe, the Deputy Prime Minister, whose resignation triggered the challenge that ended Thatcher’s leadership. Under Thatcher’s successor, John Major (1990–1997), the slow process of integration within the EU forced party tensions to the surface. A core of EuroscepticMPs under Major used the small Conservative majority in Parliament to oppose Government policy on the Maastricht Treaty. By doing so they undermined Major’s ability to govern.

In recent years the Conservative Party has become more clearly Eurosceptic, as the Labour Government has found itself unwilling to make a positive case for further integration, and Eurosceptic or pro-withdrawal parties such as the United Kingdom Independence Party have made showings in UK elections. But under current EU practices, the degree to which a Conservative Government could implement policy change regarding the EU would depend directly on the willingness of other EU member states to agree to such policies.

In 2009 the Conservative Party actively campaigned against the Lisbon Treaty, which it believes would give away too much sovereignty to Brussels. Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague stated that, should the Treaty be in force by the time of an incoming Conservative government, he would “not let matters rest there”.[94] However, on 14 June 2009 the shadow Business Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, said in an interview to the BBC that the Conservative party would not reopen negotiations on the Lisbon Treaty if the Irish backed it in a new referendum,[95] which they did on 2 October 2009.

The Conservative Party pledged an in-out referendum on membership of the European Union after a renegotiation, and it occurred on 23 June 2016, resulting in the Brexit.

Union policy[edit]

The Conservatives staunchly support the maintenance of the United Kingdom, and oppose the independence of any of thecountries of the United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland from it. They have had a mixed history on support for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish devolution.

In 1968, Edward Heath issued his ‘Perth declaration‘, in support of a Scottish assembly, in the wake of growing nationalism. However, the cause went unanswered during his turbulent premiership, and under Margaret Thatcher and John Major‘s leadership, the Conservatives vehemently opposed devolution, and campaigned against it in the 1997 devolution referendum. Following the Scottish Parliament‘s establishment in 1999, they have vowed to support its continued existence, and along with Labour and the Liberal Democrats, they supported the Scotland Bill (2011), granting further devolution of power. They campaigned alongside Labour and the Liberal Democrats against full Scottish Independence in the 2014Scottish Independence referendum.

In Wales, the Conservatives campaigned against devolution in the 1997 referendum, however likewise as with Scotland, they have vowed to maintain the Welsh Assembly‘s continued existence, and in 2011 supported the further devolution of power.

In Northern Ireland, the Conservatives suspended the parliament in 1973 in the wake of the growing Troubles, and made unsuccessful attempts to re-establish it in the same year, and in 1982. They supported the Belfast Agreement negotiated by the Blair government in 1998, and in 2009, negotiated an electoral pact with the declining Ulster Unionist Party, whom it had previously been allied to before 1973.

The party opposed Labour’s attempts to devolve power to the northern regions of England in 2004. They declared support for a commission into the West Lothian Question, as to whether or not only English MPs should be able to vote on issues solely affecting English matters following the Scottish Independence Referendum.

The British Constitution[edit]

Traditionally the Conservative Party have been defenders of Britain’s unwritten constitution and system of government. The party opposed many of Tony Blair‘s reforms, such as the removal of the hereditary peers,[96] the incorporation of theEuropean Convention on Human Rights into British law, and the 2009 creation of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, a function formerly carried out by the House of Lords. Until 2001 most members of the party were against an elected House of Lords; however opinion was later split, shown in the vote on the House of Lords Reform Bill 2012, when 80 backbenchers voted for an 80% elected upper chamber, and 110 did not.[97] There was also a split on whether to introduce a British Bill of Rights which would replace the Human Rights Act 1998; David Cameron expressed support, but Ken Clarke described it as “xenophobic and legal nonsense”.[98]


Party structure[edit]

Devolved seats
London Assembly

8 / 25

Scottish Parliament

31 / 129

Welsh Assembly

11 / 60

Northern Ireland Assembly

0 / 108

Share of the vote received by Conservatives (blue), Whigs/Liberals/Liberal Democrats (orange), Labour (red) and others (grey) in general elections since 1832.[99][100]

In the organisation of the Conservative Party, constituency associations dominate the election of party leaders and the selection of local candidates (although some associations have organised open parliamentary primaries), while the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) leads financing, organisation of elections and drafting of policy. The leader of the parliamentary party forms policy in consultation with his cabinet and administration. This decentralised structure is unusual.[101]

The Conservative Party Board is the party’s ultimate decision making body, responsible for all operational matters (including fundraising, membership and candidates) and is made up of representatives from each (voluntary, political and professional) section of the Party.[102] The Party Board meets about once a month and works closely with CCHQ, elected representatives and the voluntary membership mainly through a number of management sub-committees (such as membership, candidates and conferences).


The Conservative Party has a membership of paid-up supporters, which, as of September 2014, is 150,000.[103]Membership peaked in the mid-1950s at approximately 3 million, before declining steadily through the second half of the 20th century.[104] Despite an initial boost shortly after David Cameron’s election as leader in December 2005, membership resumed its decline in 2006 to a lower level than when he was elected. In 2010, the Conservative Party had about 177,000 members according to activist Tim Montgomerie,[105] and in 2013 membership was estimated by the party itself at 134,000.[106] The membership fee for the Conservative Party is £25, or £5 if the member is under the age of 23. From April 2013 people could join Team2015 without being Party members, and take part in political campaigning for the party in the 2015 general election.

Conservative Future[edit]

Main article: Conservative Future

The Conservative Party maintains a youth wing for members under 30 called Conservative Future. Conservative Future is the largest such youth wing in the United Kingdom, with approximately 20,000 members.[107] It has branches at both universities and at parliamentary constituency level. This reflects Conservative Future’s origin as a merger of the Young Conservatives, Conservative Collegiate Forum, and the National Association of Conservative Graduates, brought about in 1998. Young members in Scotland belong to an independent organisation, called Conservative Future Scotland.


The major annual party events are the Spring Forum and the Party Conference, which takes place in Autumn in alternately Manchester or Birmingham.


In the first decade of the 21st century, half the party’s funding came from a cluster of just fifty “donor groups”, and a third of it from only fifteen.[108] In the year after the 2010 general election, half the Tories’ funding came from the financial sector.[109]

In 2004, according to accounts filed with the Electoral Commission, the party had an income of about £20 million and expenditures of about £26 million.[110]

For 2013, the Conservative Party had an income of £25.4 million, of which £749,000 came from membership subscriptions.[111]

International organisations[edit]

The Conservative Party is affiliated to — and plays a leading part in — a number of international organisations. As a global level, the Conservatives are a member of the International Democrat Union, which unites centre-right parties and its European subdivision, the European Democrat Union.

As a European level, the Conservatives are members of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR), which unites centre-right parties in opposition to a federal European Union. In the European Parliament, the Conservative Party’s MEPs sit in the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, which is affiliated to the AECR. Party leader David Cameron pushed the foundation of the ECR, which was launched in 2009, along with the Czech Civic Democratic Party and the Polish Law and Justice, before which the Conservative Party’s MEPs sat in the European Democrats, which had become a subgroup of the European People’s Party in the 1990s. Since the 2014 European election, the ECR group has been the third-largest group, with the largest members being the Conservatives (nineteen MEPs), Law and Justice (eighteen MEPs), the Alternative for Germany (seven MEPs), and the Danish People’s Party and New Flemish Alliance (four MEPs each).

As of June 2009, Cameron required a further four partners apart from the Polish and Czech supports to qualify for officialfraction status in the parliament; the rules state that a caucus needs at least 25 MEPs from at least seven of the 27 EU member states.[112] In forming the caucus, Cameron is reportedly breaking with two decades of co-operation by the UK’s Conservative Party with the mainstream European Christian Democrats and conservatives in the European parliament, theEuropean People’s Party (EPP) on the grounds that it is dominated by European federalists and supporters of the Lisbon treaty, which is opposed by the Tories.[112] EPP leader Wilfried Martens, former prime minister of Belgium, stated “Cameron’s campaign has been to take his party back to the centre in every policy area with one major exception: Europe. […] I can’t understand his tactics. Merkel and Sarkozy will never accept his Euroscepticism.”[112]

Party factions[edit]

The Conservative Party has a variety of internal factions or ideologies, including[113] Cameronism,[114][115] One-nation conservatism, Social conservatism, Thatcherism, Neoconservatism,[116][117] Hard euroscepticism,[118] Pro-Europeanism,[118]Localism and Green conservatism.

One-nation Conservatives[edit]

One-nation conservatism was the party’s dominant ideology in the 20th century until the rise of Thatcherism in the 1970s, and included in its ranks Conservative Prime Ministers such as Stanley Baldwin, Harold Macmillan and Edward Heath.[119]The name itself comes from a famous phrase of Disraeli. The basis of One-Nation Conservatism is a belief in social cohesion, and its adherents support social institutions that maintain harmony between different interest groups, classes, and—more recently—different races or religions. These institutions have typically included the welfare state, the BBC, and local government. Some are also supporters of the European Union, perhaps stemming from an extension of the cohesion principle to the international level, though others are strongly against the EU (such as Sir Peter Tapsell). Prominent One Nation Conservatives in the contemporary party include Kenneth Clarke, Malcolm Rifkind and Damian Green; they are often associated with the Tory Reform Group and the Bow Group. One Nation Conservatives often invoke Edmund Burke and his emphasis on civil society (“little platoons”) as the foundations of society, as well as his opposition to radical politics of all types.[120] Ideologically, One Nation Conservatism identifies itself with a broad liberal conservative stance. The ‘Red Tory’ theory of Phillip Blond is a strand of the ‘One Nation’ school of thought. Prominent ‘Red Tories’ include Iain Duncan Smithand Eric Pickles in the Cabinet and Jesse Norman on the backbenches.[121]

Free-market Conservatives[edit]

The second main grouping in the Conservative party is the “free-market wing” of economic liberals who achieved dominance after the election of Margaret Thatcher as party leader in 1975. Their goal was to reduce the role of the government in the economy and to this end they supported cuts in direct taxation, the privatisation of nationalised industries and a reduction in the size and scope of the welfare state. Supporters of the “free-market wing” have been labelled as “Thatcherites“. The group has disparate views of social policy: Thatcher herself was socially conservative and a practisingAnglican but the free-market wing in the Conservative Party harbour a range of social opinions from the civil libertarianviews of Michael Portillo, Daniel Hannan,[122] and David Davis to the traditional conservatism of former party leaders William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith. The Thatcherite wing is also associated with the concept of a “classless society.”[123]

Most free-marketeers are also Eurosceptic, perceiving most EU regulations as interference in the free market and/or a threat to British sovereignty. EU centralisation also conflicts with the localist ideals that have grown in prominence within the party in recent years. Rare Thatcherite Europhiles include Leon Brittan. Many take inspiration from Thatcher’s Bruges speech in 1988, in which she declared that “we have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain only to see them reimposed at a European level”. A number of free-market Conservatives have signed the Better Off Out pledge to leave the EU.[124] Thatcherites and economic liberals in the party also tend to be Atlanticist, identifying strongly with the founding principles of the United States. This was demonstrated with the close friendship between Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan.

Thatcher herself claimed philosophical inspiration from the works of Burke and Friedrich Hayek for her defence of liberal economics. Groups associated with this tradition include the No Turning Back Group and Conservative Way Forward, whilstEnoch Powell and Sir Keith Joseph are usually cited as early influences in the movement.[125]

Traditionalist Conservatives[edit]

This socially conservative right-wing grouping is currently associated with the Cornerstone Group (or Faith, Family, Flag), and is the third main tradition within the Conservative Party. The name stems from its support for three British social institutions (though the Church is an English institution): the Church of England, the unitary British state and the family. To this end, they emphasise the country’s Anglican heritage, oppose any transfer of power away from the United Kingdom—either downwards to the nations and regions or upwards to the European Union—and seek to place greater emphasis on traditional family structures to repair what they see as a broken society in the UK. They are strong advocates of marriage and believe the Conservative Party should back the institution with tax breaks and have opposed Labour’s alleged assault on both traditional family structures and fatherhood. Most oppose high levels of immigration and support the lowering of the current 24 week abortion limit. Some members in the past have expressed support for capital punishment. Prominent MPs from this wing of the party include Andrew Rosindell, Nadine Dorries and Edward Leigh—the latter a prominent Roman Catholic, notable in a faction marked out by its support for the established Church of England. The conservative English philosopher Roger Scruton is a representative of the intellectual wing of the Cornerstone group: his writings rarely touch on economics and instead focus on conservative perspectives concerning political, social, cultural and moral issues.

Relationships between the factions[edit]

Sometimes two groupings have united to oppose the third. Both Thatcherite and Traditionalist Conservatives rebelled over Europe (and in particular Maastricht) during John Major‘s premiership; and Traditionalist and One Nation MPs united to inflict Margaret Thatcher’s only major defeat in Parliament, over Sunday trading.

Not all Conservative MPs can be easily placed within one of the above groupings. For example, John Major was the ostensibly “Thatcherite” candidate during the 1990 leadership election, but he consistently promoted One-Nation Conservatives to the higher reaches of his cabinet during his time as Prime Minister. These included Kenneth Clarke as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Michael Heseltine as Deputy Prime Minister.[126]

Electoral performance[edit]

This chart shows the electoral performance of the Conservative Party in general elections since 1835.[127][citation needed]

Election Votes Vote % Seats Outcome of election
1835 261,269 40.8%

273 / 658

Whig Victory
1837 379,694 48.3%

314 / 658

Whig Victory
1841 379,694 56.9%

367 / 658

Conservative Victory
1847 205,481 42.7%

325 / 656

Whig Victory
1852 311,481 41.9%

330 / 654

Conservative Victory
1857 239,712 34.0%

264 / 654

Whig Victory
1859 193,232 34.3%

298 / 654

Whig Victory
1865 346,035 40.5%

289 / 658

Liberal Victory
1868 903,318 38.4%

271 / 658

Liberal Victory
1874 1,091,708 44.3%

350 / 652

Conservative Victory
1880 1,462,351 42.5%

237 / 652

Liberal Victory
1885 2,020,927 43.5%

247 / 670

Liberal Victory
1886 1,520,886 51.1%

394 / 670

Conservative Victory (supported by Liberal Unionists)
1892 2,159,150 47.0%

313 / 670

Liberal Victory
1895 1,894,772 49.0%

411 / 670

Conservative and Liberal Unionist Victory
1900 1,767,958 50.3%

402 / 670

Conservative and Liberal Unionist Victory
1906 2,422,071 43.4%

156 / 670

Liberal Victory
January 1910 3,104,407 46.8%

272 / 670

Liberal government in hung Parliament
December 1910 2,420,169 46.6%

271 / 670

Liberal government in hung Parliament
1918 3,472,738 33.3%

332 / 707

Coalition Victory
1922 5,294,465 38.5%

344 / 615

Conservative Victory
1923 5,286,159 38.0%

258 / 625

Labour government in hung Parliament
1924 7,418,983 46.8%

412 / 615

Conservative Victory
1929 8,252,527 38.1%

260 / 615

Labour government in hung Parliament
1931 11,377,022 55.0%

470 / 615

National Government Victory
1935 10,025,083 47.8%

386 / 615

National Government Victory
1945 8,716,211 36.2%

197 / 640

Labour Victory
1950 11,507,061 40.0%

282 / 625

Labour Victory
1951 13,724,418 48.0%

321 / 625

Conservative Victory
1955 13,310,891 49.7%

345 / 630

Conservative Victory
1959 13,750,875 49.4%

365 / 630

Conservative Victory
1964 12,002,642 43.4%

304 / 630

Labour Victory
1966 11,418,455 41.9%

253 / 630

Labour Victory
1970 13,145,123 46.4%

330 / 630

Conservative Victory
February 1974 11,872,180 37.9%

297 / 635

Labour government in hung Parliament
October 1974 10,462,565 35.8%

277 / 635

Labour Victory
1979 13,697,923 43.9%

339 / 635

Conservative Victory
1983 13,012,316 42.4%

397 / 650

Conservative Victory
1987 13,760,935 42.2%

376 / 650

Conservative Victory
1992 14,093,007 41.9%

336 / 651

Conservative Victory
1997 9,600,943 30.7%

165 / 659

Labour Victory
2001 8,357,615 31.7%

166 / 659

Labour Victory
2005 8,785,941 32.4%

198 / 646

Labour Victory
2010 10,704,647 36.1%

306 / 650

Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition
2015 11,334,920 36.9%

330 / 650

Conservative Victory

Associated groups[edit]

Ideological groups[edit]

Interest groups[edit]

Think tanks[edit]


Party structures[edit]

See also