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    Jul 14, 2016

    May takes over 10 Downing Street


    HOME Secretary Theresa May, who has promised to honour the majority decision in last month's referendum to take Britain out of the European Union (EU) although she is dead set against the exit, took over as prime minister yesterday.

    David Cameron, whom she succeeded, announced the morning after the June 23 referendum that he would step down, to take responsibility for the shocking outcome of the poll.

    The contest for the premiership, which was expected to last until September, ended suddenly on Monday when junior energy minister Andrea Leadsom, Mrs May's last rival candidate after others were eliminated, abruptly pulled out.

    After moving into 10 Downing Street, Mrs May, 59, is expected to immediately start putting together a new Cabinet, a complex balancing act as she has to satisfy opposing camps in the ruling Conservative Party, which were bitterly split over Brexit - the shorthand for Britain's EU exit, Reuters pointed out.

    Before the referendum, Ms May had campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU.

    Since the vote, she has repeatedly said that "Brexit means Brexit" and people close to her say she is determined to make the exit a success.

    The formation of a new Brexit department, headed by a secretary of state tasked with negotiating the terms of the exit with the EU, will be one of her first announcements as prime minister, Bloomberg reported.

    However, Mrs May has also said she would not be rushed into triggering Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, the formal step that will kickstart the exit process, despite pressure from other EU capitals to do so.

    Called a "liberal conservative", the former financial consultant, when being home secretary, had campaigned for more controls on EU citizens living and working in Britain, the Daily Telegraph noted.

    However, she had also shown a willingness to face down the right wing of her party on EU matters.

    Regarding Brexit, she wants to retain as much access as possible to the single EU market, which still has 27 member countries excluding Britain.

    However, she is expected to proceed at least on three issues that had swayed the poll: end the free movement of labour from Europe into Britain, re-establish the sovereignty of the British parliament, and terminate London's budget contributions to the EU.