Theresa May, New British Prime Minister, Gives Boris Johnson a Key Post – New York Times

LONDON — After a startlingly swift transfer of power that made her Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May took charge of a new government on Wednesday, vowing to honor the referendum to leave the European Union and naming Boris Johnson, the former London mayor who had been widely considered politically dead, as foreign minister.

Mr. Johnson had been at the forefront of the so-called Leave campaign, but after its triumph abruptly pulled out of the contest to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron, who left office earlier Wednesday.

Speaking as she arrived at the prime minister’s office at 10 Downing Street, Ms. May, 59, who had served for six years as home secretary, sought to position herself firmly in the tradition of “one nation” Conservatism, stressing her commitment to helping the underprivileged and pledging to fight “burning injustice.” She also promised to preside over an economy that benefits everyone.

“As we leave the European Union we will forge a bold new positive role for ourselves in the world, and we will make Britain a country that works not just for a privileged few but for every one of us,” Ms. May said, as her husband, Philip, stood nearby.

Another notable appointment was that of David Davis, a former minister for Europe and a longstanding Euroskeptic, to lead a new department responsible for exiting the European Union. Liam Fox, a former defense secretary, will take charge of international trade.

Ms. May has effectively handed Mr. Johnson, Mr. Davis and Mr. Fox the responsibility for successfully carrying out the withdrawal — known as Brexit — which they repeatedly promised would yield new opportunities.

Putting crucial international portfolios firmly in the hands of Brexit supporters was perhaps an astute move for Ms. May, who had argued, tepidly, for Britain to remain in the European Union.

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Not only do the appointments appear to reflect a desire to unite her party around the outcome of the June 23 vote, they may also be calculated to head off any suggestion from right-wingers that she might not follow the will of the voters.

Even so, Mr. Johnson’s elevation to such a prestigious post represents a remarkable change of fortunes in a career that has had its share of them. He played a key role in the extraordinary national dramas of the last few months, abandoning Mr. Cameron, who desperately tried to keep Britain in the European Union, and cheerfully becoming the public face of the Brexit campaign.

Yet when Mr. Cameron announced his resignation after the referendum, Mr. Johnson’s hopes of succeeding him as Conservative Party leader were undermined by another Brexit supporter, Justice Secretary Michael Gove, who threw aside his support for Mr. Johnson and announced his own candidacy. Mr. Gove argued that Mr. Johnson was not up to the job.

Ms. May herself recently mocked Mr. Johnson’s negotiating skills over London’s purchase of used German water cannons when he was mayor. She blocked the use of the cannons, citing fears that they could cause serious injuries.

Among other appointments, Ms. May promoted Amber Rudd, former energy secretary, to home secretary. That ensures that one of the biggest political offices — and Ms. May’s old job — remains in the hands of a woman. The new prime minister chose Philip Hammond, who had been foreign secretary, as chancellor of the Exchequer, replacing George Osborne, a close Cameron ally.

Ms. May moved into 10 Downing Street after a day of political ritual that saw Mr. Cameron address lawmakers for the last time as prime minister, before tendering his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II.

Only on Monday did Ms. May learn that she would become prime minister, when the last remaining contender to lead the governing Conservative Party, Andrea Leadsom, quit the race. Ms. May takes over at a time of acute political turmoil and economic uncertainty and is the 13th prime minister to serve this queen — the first was Winston Churchill.

Ms. May’s task is more formidable than that of most of her predecessors. She must chart a course that unites her Conservative Party and takes Britain out of the European Union, while limiting the effect of withdrawal on an economy already heading for a downturn and bruised by a slump in the value of its currency.

Interactive Feature | Background on Britain’s E.U. Decision The country has voted to leave an economic and political union of 28 nations intended to deliver peace, stability and prosperity.

The Brexit referendum divided the nation, with the majority of voters in a number of less affluent areas opting to quit the bloc, while most of those in London, Scotland and Northern Ireland took the opposite view. On Monday, Ms. May outlined some of the economic changes she hopes to make, speaking about taming excessive executive pay, and arguing that big multinational companies must pay their fair share in taxes.

Just an hour or so before Ms. May spoke outside 10 Downing Street on Wednesday, Mr. Cameron stood in the same spot, flanked by his wife, Samantha, and their three children, paying tribute to his family and his key staff members who had supported him.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve our country as prime minister over these last six years, and to serve as the leader of my party for almost 11 years,” Mr. Cameron said. “My only wish is continued success for this great country that I love so very much.”

Mr. Cameron cited the nation’s economic recovery as his top legacy. “With the deficit cut by two-thirds, two and a half million more people in work and one million more businesses, there can be no doubt that our economy is immeasurably stronger,” he said.

He also cited among his accomplishments the legalization of same-sex marriage, in 2013; changes to the education system; and reduced wait times for operations in Britain’s National Health Service.

“I’m delighted that for the second time in British history, the new prime minister will be a woman, and once again a Conservative,” Mr. Cameron said. “I believe Theresa will provide strong and stable leadership in fulfilling the Conservative manifesto on which we were elected, and I wish her well in negotiating the best possible terms for Britain’s exit from the European Union.”

Hours earlier, in his final parliamentary duty, Mr. Cameron took part for the last time in prime minister’s questions, the weekly ritual in which lawmakers interrogate the leader in often combative exchanges.

On Wednesday, the discussion was more respectful — and lighthearted — than usual, as Mr. Cameron’s political adversaries and allies paid tribute to him.

“I’m told that there are lots of leadership roles out there at the moment: there’s the England football team, there’s ‘Top Gear,’ there’s even across the big pond the role that needs filling,” Danny Kinahan, a lawmaker from Northern Ireland, told Mr. Cameron jokingly, referring to Britain’s soccer team, a wildly popular BBC television show — and the United States presidential election.

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Theresa May Is Britain's New Prime Minister After David Cameron's Resignation – New York Times

LONDON — Theresa May took office as Britain’s prime minister on Wednesday afternoon, after her predecessor, David Cameron, tendered his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II.

At Buckingham Palace, the queen asked Ms. May, who had been home secretary, to form a government. Ms. May, 59, is the queen’s 13th prime minister; the first was Winston Churchill. She is the second woman to hold the job, after Margaret Thatcher.

Arriving at 10 Downing Street with her husband, Philip, Ms. May gave her first remarks as prime minister, making an appeal for unity and calm.

“Not everybody knows this, but the full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist Party, and that word unionist is very important to me,” she said. “It means we believe in the union — the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — but it means something else that is just as important. It means that we believe in a union not just between the nations of the United Kingdom but between all of our citizens, every one of us, whoever we are and wherever we are from.”

Repeating almost word for word a speech she gave upon declaring her candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party, Ms. May vowed to fight the “burning injustice” of poverty; harsh treatment of blacks by the police; lack of university access for white working-class boys; mental illness; and pay disparities between women and men. She said that many Britons were struggling just to get by.

“The government I lead will be driven not by the interest of the privileged few, but by yours,” she said. “We will do we everything we can to give you more control over your lives.”

Ms. May had supported Britain’s remaining in the European Union, but tepidly, and she promised to respect the outcome of the June 23 referendum.

“As we leave the European Union, we will forge a bold new positive role for ourselves in the world, and we will make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us,” she said.

Only an hour or so earlier, Mr. Cameron had stood at the same spot, with his wife, Samantha, and their three children.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve our country as prime minister over these last six years, and to serve as the leader of my party for almost 11 years,” Mr. Cameron said. “My only wish is continued success for this great country that I love so very much.”

Mr. Cameron cited the nation’s economic recovery as his top legacy. “With the deficit cut by two-thirds, two and a half million more people in work, and one million more businesses, there can be no doubt that our economy is immeasurably stronger,” he said.

He also cited among his accomplishments the legalization of same-sex marriage, in 2013; changes to the education system; and reduced wait times for operations in Britain’s much loved National Health Service.

In his final parliamentary duty, Mr. Cameron took part for the last time in prime minister’s questions, the weekly ritual in which lawmakers interrogate the leader in often combative exchanges.

On Wednesday, the discussion was more respectful — and lighthearted — than usual, as Mr. Cameron’s political adversaries and allies paid tribute to him as he prepared to leave his office in 10 Downing Street for the last time as prime minister, a position he has held for six years.

“I’m told that there are lots of leadership roles out there at the moment: There’s the England football team, there’s ‘Top Gear,’ there’s even across the big pond the role that needs filling,” Danny Kinahan, a lawmaker from Northern Ireland, told Mr. Cameron jokingly, referring to the country’s soccer team, a popular television show and the United States presidential election.

Jeremy Corbyn, the embattled leader of the opposition Labour Party, congratulated Mr. Cameron for his support for same-sex marriage and for his efforts to secure the release of Shaker Aamer, a Saudi citizen and British resident, from Guantánamo Bay last fall. He pressed Mr. Cameron, however, on his record on homelessness; the affordability of housing; and the rise of “zero hour” contracts that can exploit low-wage workers.

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Mr. Cameron said his government had reduced child poverty and cracked down on mistreatment of workers.

The two men, in their final joust at Westminster, tangled over the respective challenges their leadership has faced. Mr. Cameron announced his resignation in the aftermath of Britain’s tumultuous referendum on June 23 to leave the European Union, while Mr. Corbyn, only 10 months into his term as the head of Labour, faces a challenge to that leadership.

Mr. Cameron said his governing Conservative Party had swiftly picked his successor, while saying of the opposition party, “They haven’t even decided what the rules are yet.”

Mr. Cameron also made a reference to the cat at 10 Downing Street, a tabby named Larry, who belongs to the Civil Service. “The rumor that somehow I don’t love Larry — I do, and I have photographic evidence to prove it,” he said, holding up a photograph of the cat. “Sadly, I can’t take Larry with me.”

On a more somber note, Angus Robertson, a lawmaker from the pro-independence Scottish National Party, said that Mr. Cameron’s decision to call the referendum risked the breakup of the United Kingdom. Most voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European bloc, while most voters in England and Wales — with notable exceptions, including London — voted to leave.

Mr. Robertson said of Ms. May: “She plans to plow on with ‘Brexit’ regardless of the fact that Scotland voted to remain in the European Union. How does the outgoing prime minister think that all this will go down in Scotland?”

Ahead of his parliamentary appearance, Mr. Cameron told The Telegraph newspaper, “As I leave today, I hope that people will see a stronger country, a thriving economy and more chances to get on in life.”

Though Mr. Cameron won a general election only last year, he finds himself out of power at age 49. Mr. Cameron will be the youngest prime minister to relinquish the job since Archibald Primrose, the Earl of Rosebery, in 1895.

Before leaving Parliament on Wednesday, to laughter and applause, Mr. Cameron appeared to reflect on the transience of power, telling lawmakers: “I was the future once.”

Mr. Cameron will mainly be remembered as the prime minister who gambled — and lost — by holding a referendum in which he called on Britons to continue more than four decades of European integration.

When 52 percent of voters decided they wanted to leave the bloc in last month’s referendum, Mr. Cameron was left with little alternative but to resign.

Ms. May, who has served as home secretary for six years, is expected to promote several women to central positions in her cabinet, though it remains unclear whether those will include the jobs of chancellor of the Exchequer or foreign secretary.

Because she argued for Britain to remain inside the European Union, she is expected to give powerful positions to several of those who took the opposing view, to create a politically balanced cabinet.

One of her most delicate decisions will be what positions — if any — to offer figures such as Boris Johnson, the former London mayor, and Michael Gove, the justice secretary. Both men took leading roles in the campaign for withdrawal from the European Union, or “Brexit.”

While the power struggle in the Conservative Party is over for now, the one in the opposition Labour Party is just getting underway.

On Wednesday, Owen Smith, a Labour lawmaker who used to speak for the party on work and pensions issues, said he would run for the leadership. Angela Eagle, who used to speak for the party on business issues, announced on Monday that she would challenge Mr. Corbyn, who has refused to stand down despite the resignation of most of his leadership team in Parliament.

The Labour Party’s ruling body — the National Executive Committee — decided that Mr. Corbyn would automatically be on the ballot, without needing to collect the necessary nominations from lawmakers, a task he would have struggled to accomplish.

The committee also decided to suspend local party meetings for the duration of the leadership contest, in a move apparently prompted by allegations of intimidation of lawmakers and party members. The timetable for the leadership vote is expected to be announced on Thursday; the contest will probably conclude by the end of September.

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Theresa May Is Britain's New Prime Minister After David Cameron's Resignation – New York Times

LONDON — Theresa May took office as Britain’s prime minister on Wednesday afternoon, after her predecessor, David Cameron, tendered his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II.

At Buckingham Palace, the queen asked Ms. May, who had been home secretary, to form a government. Ms. May, 59, is the queen’s 13th prime minister; the first was Winston Churchill. She is the second woman to hold the job, after Margaret Thatcher.

Arriving at 10 Downing Street with her husband, Philip, Ms. May gave her first remarks as prime minister, making an appeal for unity and calm.

“Not everybody knows this, but the full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist Party, and that word unionist is very important to me,” she said. “It means we believe in the union — the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — but it means something else that is just as important. It means that we believe in a union not just between the nations of the United Kingdom but between all of our citizens, every one of us, whoever we are and wherever we are from.”

Repeating almost word for word a speech she gave upon declaring her candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party, Ms. May vowed to fight the “burning injustice” of poverty; harsh treatment of blacks by the police; lack of university access for white working-class boys; mental illness; and pay disparities between women and men. She said that many Britons were struggling just to get by.

“The government I lead will be driven not by the interest of the privileged few, but by yours,” she said. “We will do we everything we can to give you more control over your lives.”

Ms. May had supported Britain’s remaining in the European Union, but tepidly, and she promised to respect the outcome of the June 23 referendum.

“As we leave the European Union, we will forge a bold new positive role for ourselves in the world, and we will make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us,” she said.

Only an hour or so earlier, Mr. Cameron had stood at the same spot, with his wife, Samantha, and their three children.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve our country as prime minister over these last six years, and to serve as the leader of my party for almost 11 years,” Mr. Cameron said. “My only wish is continued success for this great country that I love so very much.”

Mr. Cameron cited the nation’s economic recovery as his top legacy. “With the deficit cut by two-thirds, two and a half million more people in work, and one million more businesses, there can be no doubt that our economy is immeasurably stronger,” he said.

He also cited among his accomplishments the legalization of same-sex marriage, in 2013; changes to the education system; and reduced wait times for operations in Britain’s much loved National Health Service.

In his final parliamentary duty, Mr. Cameron took part for the last time in prime minister’s questions, the weekly ritual in which lawmakers interrogate the leader in often combative exchanges.

On Wednesday, the discussion was more respectful — and lighthearted — than usual, as Mr. Cameron’s political adversaries and allies paid tribute to him as he prepared to leave his office in 10 Downing Street for the last time as prime minister, a position he has held for six years.

“I’m told that there are lots of leadership roles out there at the moment: There’s the England football team, there’s ‘Top Gear,’ there’s even across the big pond the role that needs filling,” Danny Kinahan, a lawmaker from Northern Ireland, told Mr. Cameron jokingly, referring to the country’s soccer team, a popular television show and the United States presidential election.

Jeremy Corbyn, the embattled leader of the opposition Labour Party, congratulated Mr. Cameron for his support for same-sex marriage and for his efforts to secure the release of Shaker Aamer, a Saudi citizen and British resident, from Guantánamo Bay last fall. He pressed Mr. Cameron, however, on his record on homelessness; the affordability of housing; and the rise of “zero hour” contracts that can exploit low-wage workers.

Interactive Feature | Today’s Headlines: European Morning Get news and analysis from Europe and around the world delivered to your inbox every day in the European morning.

Mr. Cameron said his government had reduced child poverty and cracked down on mistreatment of workers.

The two men, in their final joust at Westminster, tangled over the respective challenges their leadership has faced. Mr. Cameron announced his resignation in the aftermath of Britain’s tumultuous referendum on June 23 to leave the European Union, while Mr. Corbyn, only 10 months into his term as the head of Labour, faces a challenge to that leadership.

Mr. Cameron said his governing Conservative Party had swiftly picked his successor, while saying of the opposition party, “They haven’t even decided what the rules are yet.”

Mr. Cameron also made a reference to the cat at 10 Downing Street, a tabby named Larry, who belongs to the Civil Service. “The rumor that somehow I don’t love Larry — I do, and I have photographic evidence to prove it,” he said, holding up a photograph of the cat. “Sadly, I can’t take Larry with me.”

On a more somber note, Angus Robertson, a lawmaker from the pro-independence Scottish National Party, said that Mr. Cameron’s decision to call the referendum risked the breakup of the United Kingdom. Most voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European bloc, while most voters in England and Wales — with notable exceptions, including London — voted to leave.

Mr. Robertson said of Ms. May: “She plans to plow on with ‘Brexit’ regardless of the fact that Scotland voted to remain in the European Union. How does the outgoing prime minister think that all this will go down in Scotland?”

Ahead of his parliamentary appearance, Mr. Cameron told The Telegraph newspaper, “As I leave today, I hope that people will see a stronger country, a thriving economy and more chances to get on in life.”

Though Mr. Cameron won a general election only last year, he finds himself out of power at age 49. Mr. Cameron will be the youngest prime minister to relinquish the job since Archibald Primrose, the Earl of Rosebery, in 1895.

Before leaving Parliament on Wednesday, to laughter and applause, Mr. Cameron appeared to reflect on the transience of power, telling lawmakers: “I was the future once.”

Mr. Cameron will mainly be remembered as the prime minister who gambled — and lost — by holding a referendum in which he called on Britons to continue more than four decades of European integration.

When 52 percent of voters decided they wanted to leave the bloc in last month’s referendum, Mr. Cameron was left with little alternative but to resign.

Ms. May, who has served as home secretary for six years, is expected to promote several women to central positions in her cabinet, though it remains unclear whether those will include the jobs of chancellor of the Exchequer or foreign secretary.

Because she argued for Britain to remain inside the European Union, she is expected to give powerful positions to several of those who took the opposing view, to create a politically balanced cabinet.

One of her most delicate decisions will be what positions — if any — to offer figures such as Boris Johnson, the former London mayor, and Michael Gove, the justice secretary. Both men took leading roles in the campaign for withdrawal from the European Union, or “Brexit.”

While the power struggle in the Conservative Party is over for now, the one in the opposition Labour Party is just getting underway.

On Wednesday, Owen Smith, a Labour lawmaker who used to speak for the party on work and pensions issues, said he would run for the leadership. Angela Eagle, who used to speak for the party on business issues, announced on Monday that she would challenge Mr. Corbyn, who has refused to stand down despite the resignation of most of his leadership team in Parliament.

The Labour Party’s ruling body — the National Executive Committee — decided that Mr. Corbyn would automatically be on the ballot, without needing to collect the necessary nominations from lawmakers, a task he would have struggled to accomplish.

The committee also decided to suspend local party meetings for the duration of the leadership contest, in a move apparently prompted by allegations of intimidation of lawmakers and party members. The timetable for the leadership vote is expected to be announced on Thursday; the contest will probably conclude by the end of September.

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Europe|Theresa May Is Poised to Be Britain's Next Prime Minister – New York Times

LONDON — After an abrupt end to a dramatic leadership struggle, Theresa May, the home secretary, emerged on Monday as Britain’s next prime minister, winning responsibility for negotiating the nation’s withdrawal from the European Union, addressing deep political and social divisions and managing a slumping economy.

Her victory came on another day of rapid developments in British politics and set in motion a process that officials said would put her in 10 Downing Street by Wednesday night, succeeding David Cameron as prime minister. Ms. May, 59, would become the second woman to lead Britain, after Margaret Thatcher, who governed from 1979 to 1990.

Ms. May is now set to take over at a time of immense upheaval for Britain. The nation must not only negotiate its withdrawal from the European Union, a process fraught with economic and political risks, but it must also hold itself together amid a renewed clamor from Scotland for independence. Early signs are that Britain’s economy has already taken a substantial hit from the exit vote, or “Brexit.”

A Conservative like Mrs. Thatcher, Ms. May has won a reputation for steeliness in her tenure as home secretary. She has pledged to negotiate a deal to leave the European Union that reasserted Britain’s ability to control immigration, a central issue in the referendum on June 23 on whether to leave the bloc.

But unlike Mrs. Thatcher, Ms. May is seen as a relative political moderate and on Monday she promised to address inequality, give workers greater representation on corporate boards and limit tax cuts.

Ms. May said that she was “honored and humbled” to be chosen for the job, promised to get the best deal over Britain’s exit from the European Union and vowed to create an economy that works, not for the “privileged few,” but for all.

The British referendum on June 23 plunged the European Union into crisis. It left Britain rudderless as the pound sank in value and both the governing and opposition parties engaged in fierce and acrimonious leadership battles. Mr. Cameron, who had supported remaining in the European Union, said after the referendum that he would resign once the governing Conservatives selected a new leader, a process that he had expected to last until September but that was drastically accelerated on Monday.

After making a brief statement describing his successor as “strong” and “competent,” Mr. Cameron was caught on a microphone humming as he returned to his office.

Mr. Cameron’s statement completed a day of high political drama in which Ms. May’s rival for the Conservative Party leadership, Andrea Leadsom, the energy minister, withdrew from the race. Leading party members quickly coalesced around Ms. May, insisting that the contest should not be reopened. A party committee agreed.

Ms. Leadsom had already faced accusations — which she denied — of embellishing her curriculum vitae, but her campaign ran aground over the weekend after The Times of London published an interview in which she suggested that she was a better candidate because she is a mother, which Ms. May is not.

Surrounded by supportive lawmakers, Ms. Leadsom on Monday made no reference to that issue, but said she was quitting the contest, endorsing Ms. May, and hoped to see her installed as prime minister “as soon as possible.”

The turn of events meant that Ms. May would become prime minister without a general election and without completing the campaign she and Ms. Leadsom had been waging for the endorsement of the Conservative Party’s rank-and-file members.

Last week the former Conservative cabinet minister, Kenneth Clarke, described Ms. May as a “bloody difficult woman,” noting that he had worked for another female politician of similar temperament, namely Mrs. Thatcher.

Far from being insulted, Ms. May used the comment to suggest that her negotiating stance with European officials would be as tough as that of Mrs. Thatcher, who famously went into battle on the Continent, particularly over British financial contributions to the bloc.

“Ken Clarke might have found me to be a ‘bloody difficult woman.’ The next person to find that out will be Jean-Claude Juncker,” she told fellow Conservative lawmakers, referring to the president of the European Commission, the bloc’s executive, ITV reported.

But in a speech on Monday, Ms. May outlined an economic agenda unlike that of Mrs. Thatcher, calling for new mechanisms to curb executive pay and warning big multinational companies that they must pay their share of taxes.

Ms. May has also been compared to a less-confrontational female leader, Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, who, like Ms. May, is the daughter of a clergyman and is known for her no-nonsense, methodical and pragmatic approach.

The post-referendum turmoil in Britain has also gripped the opposition Labour Party, prompting a challenge against the leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has been accused of not campaigning hard enough against British withdrawal from Europe. There were growing fears on Monday that the party might split because of the bitter dispute.

Nevertheless, opposition politicians called for a general election and questioned Ms. May’s democratic mandate, since she will assume the job on the basis of an internal transfer of power within the governing party. So far, Ms. May has rejected the notion of a quick general election.

Her top priority will be to frame a negotiating strategy for leaving the union, after the referendum in which she sided with those who wanted to remain.

On Monday, Ms. May insisted that “Brexit means Brexit,” as she sought to reassure right-wingers that she was committed to the policy, adding that “there will be no attempt to remain inside the E.U. There will be no attempts to rejoin it by the back door, no second referendum.”

But, while 52 percent of voters supported Brexit, they did so for differing reasons, including reasserting national sovereignty and opposition to migration from within the bloc, which guarantees the right to live and work within any member nation.

Ms. May is expected to take a tough stance on immigration in part because she is politically vulnerable on the issue. As home secretary, she failed to fulfill a Conservative manifesto to control the number of people arriving in Britain. The numbers persistently exceeded targets and included arrivals of non-Europeans, which the government had the power to curb.

Ms. May has signaled her intention to restrict migration from Europe, even if doing so hurt Britain’s position in negotiating a new trade deal with the bloc. She will also be under pressure from big business to secure the best possible access to Europe’s single market, which normally entails accepting the principle of free movement of workers across national frontiers.

One important question for Ms. May is when to invoke Article 50 of the European Union’s governing treaty, which starts the withdrawal procedure. That effectively sets a two-year deadline for a deal to be struck. She has suggested that she intends to wait until her government has settled on its negotiating stance before invoking the article despite pressure from Europe’s leaders to act more quickly.

On Monday she said more about her wider political agenda in a speech that offered plans to address some of the economic and social inequalities evident in Britain. Those include populist resentments thought to have motivated many pro-Brexit voters in area that are depressed economically outside of London and in the affluent southeast of England.

“There is a growing divide between a more prosperous older generation and a struggling younger generation. And there is a gaping chasm between wealthy London and the rest of the country, she said, positioning herself in a centrist tradition of “one nation” Conservatism.

Speaking in Birmingham, England, Ms. May also called for efforts to increase productivity, for employees and consumers to gain seats on company boards and for votes on executive pay to become binding, rather than advisory. Big multinationals should pay their share of taxes, she said, adding: “Whether you’re Amazon, Google or Starbucks, you have a duty to put something back, you have a debt to your fellow citizens, you have a responsibility to pay your taxes.”

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Luck Runs Out for a Leader of Brexit Campaign – New York Times

LONDON — One day in 2004, Boris Johnson was interrupted on his morning jog by a pack of tabloid reporters massed outside his house in North London. They asked about rumors that Mr. Johnson, then editor of The Spectator magazine and a member of Parliament, had once had an extramarital affair, gotten his lover pregnant and paid for her abortion.

The chronically disheveled Mr. Johnson, wearing voluminous shorts and a bandanna decorated with skulls and crossbones, responded with his usual cocktail of charm, bluster and obfuscation. Having already dismissed the story as “a completely untrue and ludicrous conjecture,” and “an inverted pyramid of piffle,” he cheerily advised the reporters to “go for a run, get some exercise and have a beautiful day.”

He was lying. The reports were correct, and he was fired from his parliamentary job as the Conservative Party arts spokesman. But it didn’t seem to bother him too much. Mr. Johnson has always had a knack for recasting disaster as farce, and he devoted his weekly newspaper column to the virtues of being fired.

“Nothing excites compassion, in friend and foe alike,” he wrote, “as much as the sight of you ker-splonked on the Tarmac with your propeller buried six feet under.”

Mr. Johnson, 52, has had a singularly charmed life, always wafting upward on a Teflon cloud of charm and guile even as people have questioned his integrity, seriousness and competence. But not anymore. Having gambled his political future on the chance to lead his party and country through the aftermath of the “Brexit” referendum on whether to exit the European Union, Mr. Johnson found on Thursday that his luck had run out. He withdrew from the race.

In the end, he was done in as much by his own hubris, lack of preparation and bewilderment in the face of the Brexit result as he was by the treachery and dwindling support of his colleagues. As he abandoned his campaign to be the Conservative Party leader — and with it, probably, his chances of ever being prime minister — he seemed almost relieved to be spared the burden of running the country he had done so much to destabilize.

Mr. Johnson, the former mayor of London, who has not given an interview since the Brexit vote, did not respond to a message left on his parliamentary office voice mail.

For a student of Shakespeare, which Mr. Johnson is (he is writing a biography) the situation was replete with ironies. A man who had spent his life behaving like Falstaff and making merry in the pub had failed to convince his party, and perhaps himself, that he had somehow suddenly turned into Prince Hal, poised to lead the country through its crisis in Europe.

On Thursday, the anger at Mr. Johnson was palpable, replacing last week’s anger at Prime Minister David Cameron for calling the referendum in the first place. The sense that Mr. Johnson had presided over the Brexit campaign without a plan for what to do if it won — and then walked away without cleaning up his mess — was particularly enraging.

“He’s like a general who marches his army to the sound of guns and the moment he sees the battleground abandons it,” Michael Heseltine, a Tory politician, told the BBC. “I have never seen anything like it. He ripped the Tory party apart. He has created the greatest constitutional crisis in peacetime in my life.”

Just a few days earlier, Mr. Johnson had seemed poised to coast into position as prime minister when Mr. Cameron stepped down in the fall. Outside London, at least before the referendum, he was the Conservative Party’s star candidate, a populist maverick for the times. With his air of disarrayed befuddlement, his crazy coiffure, his idiosyncratically imaginative P.G. Wodehousian locution, his habit of slipping into Latin and Greek, his foot-in-the-mouth self-deprecation and his obvious delight in himself, he oozes a charm rarely seen in politicians.

He cycles to work and carries his things in a backpack. He looks as if he’s slept in his clothes and just gotten out of bed. He has the privileged demeanor of an old Etonian (he went to school there), but a Bill Clintonesque way with crowds and an appeal that transcends class. In headlines he is “BoJo”; to most Britons he is simply “Boris.”

But his surface success has always carried alongside it a reputation for lies, evasions and exaggerations, a lack of seriousness and discipline, a tendency to wade blindly into situations without thinking through their ramifications, and a perception that he puts his own ambitions first. He has a habit of deflecting tough questions and affecting an amused insouciance about his mistakes, which include fathering a child with a woman other than his wife (he and his wife, a lawyer, have four children).

He is better on the big picture than he is on the details.

Take last Monday’s column by Mr. Johnson in The Daily Telegraph, the first substantive statement anyone from the Brexit side had made since the vote. As chaos swirled outside and Britain waited nervously for a sign that someone had a plan, Mr. Johnson produced a shoddily prepared article that seemed uncertain of its facts and backtracked on a number of key Brexit promises.

Supporters of Mr. Johnson said at the time that the article had been written hastily and turned in late and should be treated more as a first draft than as a definitive statement.

In fact, it was as a journalist who played around with the facts that Mr. Johnson first made his name. He was fired from his first reporting job, at The Times of London, for inventing a quote and attributing it to an Oxford professor (who happened to be his godfather). But he was hired anyway by The Daily Telegraph and sent to Brussels in 1989 to cover the European Union.

It was a boring assignment, but Mr. Johnson found a way of livening it: He made things up. His great talent was to take tiny grains of information in reports and proposals, repackage them as official European policy and present them as part of a broad narrative about Brussels’s risibility. His stories were full of wrong-sized condoms, fishermen forced to wear hairnets and international disputes over cheese policy.

While his stories became increasingly influential in the euroskeptic wing of the Conservative Party and in many ways set the tone for the British papers’ coverage of Europe ever since, Mr. Johnson tends to treat his approach as great fun.

“I was just chucking these rocks over the garden wall and listening to this amazing crash from the greenhouse next door over in England,” he told an interviewer.

“Everything I wrote from Brussels was having this amazing explosive effect on the Tory party,” he said, “and it really gave me this, I suppose, rather weird sense of power.”

After Brussels, Mr. Johnson became editor of The Spectator, which functions as a kind of house organ for conventional Conservative Party wisdom, and began writing a popular weekly column in The Daily Telegraph. In 2001 he won a seat in Parliament.

I was in London at the time and wrote a profile of Mr. Johnson. He boasted to me in the humble-brag way peculiar to British upper-class men that, trying to juggle three jobs, he was unable to do any of them properly. “Because I have no time to do it, I do it in no time,” he said of his Telegraph column. “You just whack it out.”

Mr. Johnson seemed constitutionally incapable of taking anything truly seriously. Deciding he did not feel like being photographed for The Times article, for instance, he got another man in The Spectator office to impersonate him in the photo session. The photographer duly snapped away, until the magazine’s publisher found out what was going on and made Mr. Johnson sit for the portrait. (He was 37 at the time.)

Around that time Mr. Johnson also became a bona fide celebrity, honing his trademark persona as a hyperarticulate upper-class-twit-for-the-masses in a string of highly amusing appearances on the current events quiz show “Have I Got News For You.” Viewers adored him.

“His charming, bumbling buffoon image was neatly done and went down very well with audiences,” said Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye magazine and a panelist on the show.

In 2008, Mr. Johnson unexpectedly ran for mayor of London and, even more unexpectedly for a Conservative in a Labour city, won. The same complaints that had dogged him in the past dogged him again, along with criticisms that he had failed to address serious issues like air quality and affordable housing.

“We had eight frustrating years where we’d ask detailed policy questions, and what we’d get back in response was bluster and grandiose claims,” said Joanne McCartney, a Labour Assembly member who is now deputy mayor. “If he didn’t know the answer to the question, which was a regular occurrence, he’d use bluster and wit to avoid answering.”

Mr. Johnson all along denied that he wanted to be prime minister, saying it was about as likely as his being “reincarnated as an olive.” But he has always been wittier, quicker and more charismatic than Mr. Cameron. The 2012 London Olympics proved the perfect showcase for his off-the-cuff anarchic wit. Filmed stranded haplessly on a malfunctioning zipwire, Mr. Johnson took an incident that would have humiliated most other politicians and somehow used it to burnish his appeal. (A photograph of the dangling Mr. Johnson was used to quite different effect last week on the cover of the French newspaper Liberation.)

Mr. Cameron has always been threatened by Mr. Johnson; his efforts to slough off the mayor as a kind of amusing Tory mascot never worked. But it wasn’t until Mr. Johnson betrayed the prime minister by throwing his support behind the Brexit campaign that the party saw the extent of his ambition.

Before now, Mr. Johnson has rarely been confronted by a situation he could not maneuver his way through. But a harbinger came in March, when he was summoned before a House of Commons committee and forensically interrogated by its Javert-like Tory chairman, Andrew Tyrie, about a series of statements he had made over the years about Europe.

Mr. Johnson tried his normal humorous approach. Asked, for instance, about his assertion that the European Union has a law saying that balloons cannot be blown up by children under 8 (it doesn’t), he deflected the question, saying, “In my household, only children under 8 are allowed to blow up balloons.”

He continued in this vein throughout the session, as Mr. Tyrie peered unsmilingly at him, acid in his voice.

“This is all very interesting, Boris,” Mr. Tyrie said at one point. “Except none of it is really true, is it?”

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