Theresa May officially appointed British prime minister

Boris Johnson made foreign secretary, Philip Hammond chancellor

Theresa May is appointed Britain's prime minister by Queen Elizabeth following David Cameron's official resignation on July 13th. Video: Reuters

 

Theresa May has been appointed the UK’s second female Prime Minister in a private audience with the Queen at which she was invited to form a Government.

Mrs May’s elevation to the country’s most senior political role, at the age of 59, completes a whirlwind rise which was triggered by the unexpected referendum vote for Brexit on June 23rd which brought down predecessor David Cameron.

Mrs May made ally Philip Hammond chancellor of the exchequer as George Osborne quit the government.

She then appointed prominent Leave campaigner Boris Johnson as foreign secretary.

Mrs May “kissed hands” with the Queen in a simple procedure at Buckingham Palace which made her the 13th holder of the post of prime minister and first lord of the treasury during Elizabeth II’s reign.

Mrs May arrived at the palace by ministerial car with husband Philip, having set off from the House of Commons only after receiving the signal that predecessor David Cameron’s resignation as PM had been accepted by the Queen and that he had advised the head of state to appoint the former home secretary in his place.

Mr Cameron was accompanied by wife Samantha and children Nancy, Elwen and Florence as he left 10 Downing Street for the last time as Prime Minister.

Standing with his family outside the famous black door, Mr Cameron said that he believed he was leaving the country “much stronger” and the economy “immeasurably stronger” after his six years in office.

In a clear bid to define the legacy that he will leave behind him, he spoke of his pride at achievements including reducing the deficit, legalising gay marriage, boosting employment, introducing the National Living Wage, increasing international aid spending and cutting waits for NHS treatment.

And he paid tribute to Samantha, who he described as “the love of my life” who had “kept me vaguely sane”.

Mr Cameron said he was “delighted that for the second time in British history the new prime minister will be a woman, and once again a Conservative”.

And he said Mrs May would provide “strong and stable leadership in delivering the Conservative manifesto on which we were elected” and wished her well in negotiating “the best possible terms for Britain’s exit from the European Union”.

Mr Cameron concluded: “It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve our country as Prime Minister over these last six years and to serve as leader of my party over 11 years.

“And as we leave for the last time, my only wish is continued success for this great country that I love so very much.”

Mr Cameron earlier took his final set of prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons. He received rapturous applause as he left the House after the good humoured session.

Mrs May followed him to the Palace to be formally appointed his successor by “kissing hands” with the head of state, and is expected to make her first speech as prime minister outside the famous black door in Downing Street outlining her priorities for the new administration.

Britain’s new prime minister will swiftly begin drawing up her cabinet team and is expected to increase the number of women in government.

She will make appointing a minister to take charge of Brexit one of her first tasks as she enters No 10 as Britain’s second female prime minister.

During prime minister’s questions, Mr Cameron said he believed he had clocked up 5,500 questions while prime minister — although joked that he would leave it to others to decide how many he has answered.

He dismissed suggestions that he would look to take over as Top Gear host or England football manager, saying the roles “sound even harder” than being prime minister. He also stressed his love for Larry the Downing Street cat and exchanged warm wishes and jokes with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Cameron held up a photograph of himself with Larry, adding: “Sadly I can’t take Larry with me, he belongs to the house and the staff love him very much - as do I.”

He said Mr Corbyn reminded him of the Black Knight from Monty Python And The Holy Grail, noting: “He’s been kicked so many times but he says ‘Keep going, it’s only a flesh wound’. I admire that.”

Mr Corbyn insisted there will be “plenty more to come” for Mrs May after telling MPs he has asked Mr Cameron 179 questions.

Before his 180th question, Mr Corbyn wished Mr Cameron and his family well.