Theresa May Has Just Announced Her Resignation. Here Are Her Defining Political Moments

Remember the fields of wheat?

Theresa May

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

For the last few weeks, many have been asking, googling and tweeting, 'when will Theresa May resign?'. Well, the time has finally come. This morning Theresa May announced in a live statement that she will resign as Prime Minister on June 7th. She has confirmed that she will continue to lead until a Conservative Party leadership contest has been concluded.

Speaking this morning in a speech outside Downing Street, she said she had done her best to deliver Brexit. ‘I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back that deal ... sadly I have not been able to do so.’

As we wait to see who our next Prime Minister will be, here are some of Theresa May’s defining moments, fields of wheat and all.


Theresa May's defining moments as Prime Minister - Grazia

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When she decided to hold a snap election

After a somewhat dubious battle for leadership following David Cameron's resignation, May attempted to stabilise her position as leader and gain a greater majority in the House of Commons by holding an early general election. Convinced the Tories would win after enjoying a double-digit lead in the polls, she risked it all in the hopes of uniting Westminster in her favour. Unfortunately for her, the Conservatives ran a poor campaign while Labour flourished with new voters, and she lost her Westminster majority altogether.

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When she ran through fields of wheat

Just before the election result was announced in 2017, Theresa May revealed the 'naughtiest' thing she ever did growing up. Did she sneak into clubs with a fake ID or smuggle vodka into a sleepover? Nope, she ran 'through fields of wheat' and upset some farmers in the process. The viral quote received the ultimate meme treatment and was even remixed into a (genuinely decent) house track.

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When she made a pact with the DUP

Without her Commons majority, Theresa May chose to create entirely unholy alliance with the DUP (whom had 10 MPs in the Commons) so she could keep the Conservatives in government. In return for their support on key votes, she promised them an extra £1bn for Northern Ireland. But of course, if you make a deal with the (pro-life, anti-LGBT and pro-death penalty) Devil, you're bound to get burned, and they have since turned their back on her by opposing her Brexit deal – the most important vote she needed to win.

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When she was handed a P45 at her first party conference

Her first address to the world as a strong and stable leader was, in a foreshadowing we never could have imagined, chaotic. Not only did she cough through the entire address, so much so that Phillip Hammond handed her a cough sweet, but she was also handed a P45 from a prankster who claimed it was from Boris Johnson. Just as you thought it couldn't get any more dramatic, the slogan 'Building a Country that Works for Everyone' that hung behind her on the wall began to fall down. We really should've seen the next two years coming then and there, to be honest.

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When she became the Maybot

In another viral meme moment for Theresa May, the former Prime Minister took to the dancefloor while on a trade mission in Cape Town, South Africa. Dancing with a group of school children on the first day of her trip, her moves were quickly posted online and swept the nation. Her robotic, wooden movements put her at the mercy of tons of online commentary, a fire that was fuelled just days later when she danced again with a group of scouts in Nairobi, Kenya. Embracing her trolling online, she joked that the Strictly Come Dancing stars should 'get in touch' for tips and even danced on stage to Abba at her second party conference in 2018.

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When she opposed the Human Rights Act

It might have been before she became Prime Minister, but it was certainly a focal point of her appointment. After years of declaring she wanted to scrap the European Human Rights Act – you know, the one that protects our fundamental rights and freedoms and enables democracy – because she believes it makes it more difficult to deport criminals, she u-turned. Considerable Tory backlash to her stance forced her to promise she was 'not going to pursue' her efforts to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights when she announced her bid to become Prime Minister. While it may have been the U-turn we all wanted, it became one of many that throughout the course of her leadership.

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When she suddenly decided innocent-until-proven-guilty was not a thing

She may fundamentally oppose the protection of our liberties from the European Human Rights Act, but she fully supports another EU endeavour: the one that means suspected criminals can be extradited to any EU country without any evidence. The controversial European Arrest Warrant allows for suspects to be sent to the country a supposed crime was committed with little to no proof they committed the crime.

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When she survived two no-confidence vote

While she toured the EU on a mission to salvage her crumbling deal, her peers were conspiring to remove her as leader. MPs had been sending letters of no confidence to Sir Graham Brady for days prior, and after at least 48 joined in she faced a no confidence vote. She won a comfortable majority of 83, but faced another no confidence vote the next month tabled by Jeremy Corbyn who was hoping to trigger a general election. After his motion was defeated by 325 votes to 306, May was once again secure in her leadership. Until this fateful day just five months later.

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When she awkwardly held hands with Donald Trump

On his highly controversial UK visit back in 2018, Trump was met not only by a giant Trump Baby blimp but a very welcoming Theresay May. The two were pictured holding hands on multiple occasions during the trip as they approached the press, with many questioning her closeness to such a divisive leader. She told reporters that she was helping him up and down stairs on every occasion.

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When her immigration policy punished members of the Windrush generation

… And she refused to back down. The controversial hostile environment policy, according to May, was meant to identify people living in Britain illegally – but members of the Windrush generation were wrongly entangled with devastating consequences. Commonwealth nationals living in the UK before 1973 were automatically granted citizenship without requiring a certificate or other paperwork – but thousands were left unable to prove their eligibility in later years, causing them to be denied public services and, in some cases, to be deported. Diane Abbott said that May's refusal to properly apologise for the policy had "exposed a moral failure at the heart of this rotten government. Lives have been destroyed," she said. "Theresa May should hang her head in shame."

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CREDIT: Sky News

When she became a meme

Shoulders up, head thrown back and shaking with laughter, Theresa May couldn't contain herself during PMQs ahead of the 2017 Budget – and, naturally, her joy was immortalised into a meme mere seconds later. But what was the joke? When Jeremy Corbyn accused May of being "unclear" about whether a deal was done with Surrey Council over its cancelled tax referendum, he added: "Did she actually know what arrangement was made with Surrey County Council?" Yeah, that's it.

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CREDIT: The Sunday Times/News Syndication

When she wore some leather trousers and started a political row

Before May won the Conservative leadership election she was already making controversial headlines. And it was her choice of breeches that caused a huge stir in 2016, following an interview with the Sunday Times. The leather trousers – in "bitter chocolate", from Amanda Wakeley and allegedly costing £995 – became the centre of a row that rolled on for more than two weeks, and even saw May's invitation to a meeting about Brexit revoked, according to some reports. Former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan told The Times that the trousers had been "noticed and discussed" in Tory circles, adding,"I don't have leather trousers. I don't think I've ever spent that much on anything apart from my wedding dress." Morgan was sacked by May when she took up office in No. 10. Bitter indeed.

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When she failed to meet survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire on her visit to the site

May faced justified, heavy criticism for her failure to speak to any survivors or local people when visiting the site of the Grenfell Tower fire which killed 72 people in June 2017. She later admitted that her initial response was not good enough and said that she would "always regret" not speaking to the people affected by the tragedy. "It was a tragedy unparalleled in recent history and, although many people did incredible work during and after the fire it has long been clear that the initial response was not good enough," May wrote in the Evening Standard. "I include myself in that. While she met with firefighters and those in charge of the site following the fire, what she "did not do on that first visit," she continued, "was meet the residents and survivors who had escaped the blaze. But the residents of Grenfell Tower needed to know that those in power recognised and understood their despair. And I will always regreat that by not meeting them that day – it seemed as though I didn't care."

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