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May takes over in the UK, Clinton could follow across Atlantic

Opinion Piece

The Atlantic alliance could have two women leaders for the first time in history after events of recent days. Theresa May and Hillary Clinton are very different politicians who have served in similar-sounding roles for their countries; something else in common is their capability.

On Monday, May was named leader of the Conservative Party. She is now Britain’s prime minister.

Clinton cleared a major hurdle last week when the FBI said it would not recommend criminal charges over her use of a private email server during her term as secretary of state. She secured a major goal yesterday when she was endorsed as the Democratic candidate for president by the man she had so much trouble shaking off, Bernie Sanders.

His calls for a higher minimum wage, rebuilding infrastructure, affordable education and healthcare reform brought him huge support. On top of perceived trust and control issues, Sanders revealed another Clinton weakness — that some consider her to be too close to Wall Street. The 74-year-old senator from Vermont still has a key role to play in the Democrats’ election platform and campaign.

May, who has become the UK’s second female prime minister after Margaret Thatcher (1979 to 1990), is an interesting candidate.

Some have called her the stealth candidate in that she has succeeded against much more high-profile figures such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. But her record shows she is a very efficient politician well capable of dealing with complex situations. Not only is she the UK’s longest-serving home secretary of modern times, she has also had to deal with testing issues such as terrorism and immigration.

Few new prime ministers have come in to face the challenge she does. Although not in favour of Brexit, she has committed herself to making it work.

Exit negotiations with the European Union will be long and difficult but May’s supporters are confident of her ability to get the best deal possible. They say that although she is reserved and a little shy, she has the inner steel she will need.