As of Wednesday evening, Theresa May will become the 76th prime minister of the United Kingdom, or Britain. (The United Kingdom is a union made up of the countries of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.) Her transition to power will be a bit of an odd one.
After all, usually a brand new prime minister, or PM, arrives after winning an election. Picture it. Flush with pride and excitement after such a big victory, you get to decorate your new office, attend some fun ceremonies, move into your prestigious new home. What a thrill, right? But May's circumstances aren't those of your average new PM. How come? For one, she didn't win any election. She was chosen as the new leader by members of her own political party (the Conservatives, who are currently in power in British Parliament, or government). Okay, that's a bit unusual. What happened to the old guy?
Right. Funny story, that.
Pardon the mess, Theresa...
The old leader of the Conservatives, and the previous PM, was David Cameron. He was just reelected as Britain's leader for the second time in May 2015. Things were lovely, thanks. Until he decided to hold a vote a few weeks ago on whether or not Britain should stay in the European Union (EU). The vote was called Brexit (we wrote about it all here). Cameron wanted Britain to remain in the EU. But instead, Britain voted to go. So then Cameron voted to go to...as in he resigned as PM the morning after the vote.
That left Britain in a bit of a jam. After all, if you're about to leave the EU (one of the biggest political groups on the planet), it would be good to have a leader. That's okay, some said. Former London mayor Boris Johnson, who led the Leave Brexit campaign, will do it!
But Boris said that he didn't want it either.
And even though another big Leave campaigner, UKIP leader Nigel Farage, wasn't a member of the Conservative party, he also quit politics right after the Brexit vote.
So, to recap: in the space of a few days, Britain lost its prime minister, the man most thought would take over for him, and the man who seemed happiest with the vote's result. That's one big mess! Doesn't anyone want to stick around?
May she succeed!
Theresa May does. She's 59 and has been a Conservative MP (or member of parliament) since 1997. She is the country's second female PM (the first was Margaret Thatcher, who led the country from 1979 to 1990), and she has been quoted as saying that she would like to see more female members of cabinet (these are like super MPs who are appointed to oversee specific areas such as education or the economy). But there's no doubt that the biggest item on her plate is how to handle Brexit.
Even though May herself wanted Britain to remain, she has said clearly that she is going to respect the vote to leave. And leaving the EU will require renegotiating (or rewriting) hundreds of separate agreements, especially with an economy as strong as Britain's. It's basically the biggest first project for a new British PM in decades. And it's something that will affect not only the United Kingdom, but much of Europe, too.
How will she fare? You can be sure that most of the world is eager to find out.