Britain’s new Prime Minister entered Downing Street yesterday pledging herself a unionist.
Theresa May confirmed her commitment to the UK as she praised the record of her predecessor David Cameron.
Speaking minutes after he left Number 10, she said: “From the introduction of same sex-marriage to taking people on low wages out of income tax altogether, David Cameron has led a One Nation government and it is in that spirit that I also plan to lead.
“Because 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. 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 we believe in a Union not just between the nations of the UK but between all of our citizens – every one of us – whoever we are and wherever we’re from.”
Standing outside the famous front door to 10 Downing Street, Mrs May emphasised her commitment to improving the lot of disadvantaged people in the UK.
“That means fighting against the burning injustice that if you’re born poor you will die on average nine years earlier than others,” she said.
“If you’re black you are treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white.
“If you’re a white working class boy you’re less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university.
“If you’re at a state school you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately.”
Mrs May added: “If you’re a woman you will earn less than a man.
“If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand.
“If you’re young you will find it harder than ever before to own your own home.
“But the mission to make Britain a country that works for everyone means more than fighting these injustices. If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise.”
The new Tory leader was appointed the country’s new Prime Minister by the Queen during her first private audience yesterday evening.
At Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the sovereign, Mrs May arrived as Home Secretary and left as the Queen’s 13th Prime Minister.
The meeting may have been held in the private apartments of the head of state and begun formally with a curtsey from Mrs May, but the Queen warmly shook hands and smiled.
What passes between the Queen and her Prime Minister during their private meetings remains private, but it was the first of hundreds.
The two women stood chatting for a few minutes, while the historic moment was captured by a photographer before their meeting began.
Mrs May was wearing her trademark leopard print shoes.
Buckingham Palace confirmed her appointment in a statement: “The Queen received in audience the Right Honourable Theresa May MP this evening and requested her to form a new administration. The Right Honourable Theresa May accepted Her Majesty’s offer and kissed hands upon her appointment as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury.”
Despite the wording of the statement, a kissing of the Queen’s hand does not actually happen, according to Buckingham Palace – it is believed a handshake takes place.
The meeting, which began soon after Mrs May arrived at 5.25pm, lasted just over half an hour and at some point Mrs May’s husband, Philip May, joined them.
A few minutes before Mrs May had arrived, former prime minister David Cameron and his family left.
Mr Cameron was joined by his wife Samantha and their children Nancy, Elwen and Florence.
The Queen’s equerry Wing Commander Sam Fletcher was the member of the household who greeted and said goodbye to the new and old prime ministers.
During his last audience with the Queen, Mr Cameron tendered his resignation as Prime Minister.
At some point Mr Cameron’s family was introduced to the Queen, who earlier in the day toured the new air ambulance base at Cambridge airport where her grandson the Duke of Cambridge works.
After the meeting, which is thought to have lasted around 30 minutes, the former prime minister left to return to a relatively normal life.
The new Prime Minister Theresa May kept her first speech short and to the point.
Wearing her trademark animal print kitten heels, a blue and yellow dress and a dark blue blazer, the former Home Secretary arrived flanked by her husband Philip.
Speaking from the same lectern that David Cameron made his farewell statement more than an hour earlier, Mrs May outlined how she would govern and vowed to lead a “better Britain” outside the EU.
Outside Downing Street a small but noisy band of people could be heard calling “Theresa May, don’t delay” and “Brexit, when do we want it? Now” during the speech.
Mrs May, fresh from meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace and being invited to form a new Government, began at 6.02pm and spoke for around four minutes.
She appeared to stumble over her words only once as she referred to notes in the lectern.
The polished performance was in contrast to an awkward end to her last public appearance as Home Secretary, when she emerged from Number 10, walked to the wrong car and was forced to make a U-turn.
After she finished, Mrs May and her husband, went into their new home.
Mrs May then began appointing her cabinet.