London: Theresa May has emerged from Buckingham Palace as Britain’s second female prime minister, after paying the traditional visit to the Queen to be invited to form a government.
May’s appointment at the palace, to “kiss hands” with the Queen, as the ceremony is known, came shortly after David Cameron went to Buckingham Palace to tender his resignation.
Cameron, who stepped down after the electorate rejected his pleas to vote to remain in the European Union in last month’s referendum, had earlier congratulated May as he left 10 Downing Street for the last time with his wife and children.
May swept to her party’s leadership, when her final opponent, the pro-Brexit Andrea Leadsom, dropped out this week after making controversial comments about motherhood. May had served Cameron as home secretary throughout his six years in government.
The new prime minister was expected to make the first senior appointments to her government on Wednesday evening, including a minister for Brexit.
A few minutes earlier, Cameron had ranked a stronger economy, gay marriage and free schools as the heart of his legacy in a final and emotional farewell speech in Downing Street. Standing with his family, he said being prime minister had been “the greatest honour of my life”.
Addressing the waiting media outside No 10 before heading to Buckingham Palace to formally resign, Cameron sought to paint a positive picture of his time in office, despite it ending suddenly after the EU referendum result.
“It’s not been easy journey, and of course we’ve not got every decision right,” he said, alongside his wife, Samantha, and children Nancy, Elwen and Florence.
Giving his account of six years in office, Cameron highlighted, among other things, gay marriage, the protection of the foreign aid budget, the NHS and the national living wage. He also mentioned the economy and jobs, changes to the care system, free schools and the national citizen service.