Margaret Thatcher was called the “Iron Lady” and now Theresa May, the second woman prime minister in Britain’s history, is fast acquiring the sobriquet of a “bloody difficult woman” - but she is happy being called that.
Known to be a tough home secretary before she took over as the second Conservative woman prime minister in the aftermath of Britain’s June 23 vote to exit the European Union, May toured radio and television studios on Tuesday morning to expound on her views on Brexit and other issues.
Asked to comment on Tory veteran Ken Clarke’s description of her as a “bloody woman”, May corrected the questioner: “Actually what he said, and I don’t normally swear, was I was a ‘bloody difficult woman’.”
Former justice secretary Clarke and May often clashed in Parliament.
May went on: “Well, you know, Ken and I had our interesting debates in the past, and I stand by doing what I believe to be the right thing. And if standing up for what you believe to be right is being ‘bloody difficult’, then so be it.”
After announcing an initial timetable to begin Brexit negotiations at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham on Monday, May said: “It (Brexit) is not going to be plain sailing. There will be some bumps in the road as we go through this process.
“The economic data that we have seen so far over the past few weeks has been more positive than people were expecting. It is early data, of course. But it has been more positive than people were expecting.
“And I recognise the concern that business has to want to see a smooth process as we go through these negotiations and transition to coming out of the European Union and I want to ensure that we are listening to business, which we are doing,” she added.
In less than three months at 10, Downing Street, May is seen as moving well away from the David Cameron regime, overturning some of his policies, most notably the austerity focussed economic outlook of former chancellor George Osborne.
May, who has been tasked with the challenge of taking Britain out of the EU, said: “What relationship do we want with the EU? Now, I want that relationship to be the best possible, the right deal for the UK, and the best possible deal in terms of trade with the EU.
“I want British businesses to be able to trade with the EU and operate within the EU, and EU businesses to be able to operate here in the UK. I think that makes sense for both sides of the argument. I think it’s not about the UK in some sense being a supplicant to the EU. It’s about the reciprocity here, (a) good trade deal is going to be of benefit to us and the EU.”