British Politics

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 105–120 | Cite as

‘Brexit means Brexit’: Theresa May and post-referendum British politics

  • Nicholas AllenEmail author
Original Article


Theresa May became prime minister in July 2016 as a direct result of the Brexit referendum. This article examines her political inheritance and leadership in the immediate wake of the vote. It analyses the factors that led to her victory in the ensuing Tory leadership contest and explores both the main challenges that confronted her and the main features of her response to them. During her first 9 months in office, May gave effect to the referendum, defined Brexit as entailing Britain’s removal from membership of the European Union’s single market and customs union and sought to reposition her party. However, her failure to secure a majority in the 2017 general election gravely weakened her authority and the viability of her plans. At time of writing, it is unclear how much longer her premiership can last or if she will be able to exercise effective leadership over Brexit.


Theresa May Brexit Prime ministers Leadership Conservative party 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics and International RelationsRoyal Holloway, University of LondonSurreyUK

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