Theresa May's new vision for United Kingdom

  • 06/10/2016
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May (Reuters)
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May (Reuters)

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May has laid out her vision for post-Brexit Britain, calling for a new approach to government that serves working-class people who voted to leave the European Union in protest at the elite.

Appointed just three months ago, after the referendum on EU membership forced the resignation of David Cameron, May sought in her closing speech at the Conservative Party conference on Wednesday to stamp her authority on government.

Earlier in the week, she had placated the eurosceptic wing of her party by vowing to restore sovereignty to Britain and controls over migration in Brexit talks.

Now she pitched for the centre ground, calling on party members to appeal to millions of traditional Labour voters who defied the opposition party's pro-EU stance and voted for Brexit.

She wants the Conservatives to shed their image as what she has called "the nasty party" that protects the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor.

"So if you're a boss who earns a fortune but doesn't look after your staff, an international company that treats tax laws as an optional extra ..., a director who takes out massive dividends while knowing that the company pension is about to go bust, I'm putting you on warning," May said.

"This can't go on anymore," she said in what was widely seen as a reference to retail tycoon Philip Green who's been blamed for the collapse of department store BHS this year after he sold the business in 2015 to a serial bankrupt.

It was a clear break from Cameron, who was often criticised for protecting the "rich and powerful", some of whom were fellow ex-pupils at Eton College private school and moved in similar upscale social circles.

"[We have] a bold plan to bring Britain together," said the public-school educated May.

"We need to build a new, united Britain rooted in the centre ground, an agenda for a new, modern Conservatism that understands the good government can do.

"It will never hesitate to face down the powerful when they abuse their position of privileged, that will always act in the interest of ordinary, working-class people.

After several standing ovations during the speech - and loud applause when she walked on the stage to Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones, many of the Tory faithful in the audience praised her call for change.

But, at the same time some questioned whether the former Home Secretary would be able to carry it through such an ambitious agenda.

"It's been more about the establishment before, but it is centre-ground now isn't it? It's for everybody," said Roy Hewlett, a healthcare worker and long-term Conservative voter.

"The big problem here is delivering. The vision was brilliant, but actually delivering that vision is going to be really difficult."

Since May was appointed prime minister, the Conservatives have maintained an opinion poll lead of around eight percentage points over Labour.