Philip May is the husband of United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May. The two met while attending Oxford University and have been married for 38 years. They have no children.
On May 24, Theresa May announced that she will resign as the leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on Friday, June 7 due to her failure to pass a deal on Brexit. May will stay on as Prime Minister until her successor is chosen in a process that will likely be completed in July. Video of her husband Philip May standing outside Downing Street in support of May during her resignation has drawn attention to the Prime Minister’s spouse and biggest supporter. You can watch that footage below:
According to The Daily Mail, May has called her husband her rock. She told the Mail that he makes her beans on toast in the morning and pours her whiskey after a hard day.
Philip May has worked in finance for nearly four decades. He is currently a relationship manager at Capital Group, where he has worked since 2016. He also briefly served as Conservative Party Chairman in Wimbledon early in his career, and he has continued to actively campaign for Conservatives.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Introduced the Couple at a Student Disco
Philip and Theresa May were introduced in 1977 by a mutual friend, Benazir Bhutto, the future Prime Minister of Pakistan. They were all students at Oxford University. Mr. May told BBC One Show, “I thought ‘what a lovely girl’ – it was love at first sight.”
Although Mrs. May always had a serious demeanor, one classmate told The Telegraph, “You didn’t feel you were ever on matey terms with Theresa, but Philip was easy to get on with.”
Mr. May was two years behind his wife in school. The Prime Minister graduated in 1977, and he graduated in 1979. The Telegraph reports that the Mays were married in 1980 at Church of St Mary the Virgin in Wheatley in Oxfordshire where Theresa May’s father was the vicar.
Within the next year, both of Theresa May’s parents died, leaving her an orphan. Her father Rev Hubert Brasier was killed in a car accident and months later her mother Zaidee died of multiple sclerosis. Mrs. May has said that her husband helped her tremendously as she went through this terrible time. “That was very important for me. He was a real rock for me.” She said.
2. Philip May Has Been Accused of Conflicts of Interest
In 2017, the Labour Party called on Philip May to respond to their concerns about his ties to a company connected to the Paradise Papers tax avoidance scandal. Leaked emails appear to show that advisors at Capital Group, where Mr. May is employed, used the offshore law firm Appleby to put investments into tax havens.
Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office Jon Trickett told Business Insider Mr May had, “serious questions to answer” regarding his firm’s use of offshore tax havens.
He went on to say, “Labour has previously asked Theresa May what her government plans to do to clamp down on the tax havens where money is squirrelled away to avoid paying taxes for public services in this country. When it comes to paying tax, there is one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest of us and, in refusing to act, the Prime Minister appears to condone this.”
Representatives for Mr May have stated that he does not handle any investment decisions at his firm and has no involvement with this issue. “Mr May is involved in the development of Capital Group’s retirement solutions. He is not an investor but consults with other Capital associates on retirement products and solutions for clients,” they said.
3. May Is Often Described as His Wife’s Biggest Supporter
After 38 years of marriage, Mr May remains a dedicated and supportive spouse to his wife. One of Mr May’s colleagues told The Telegraph that he is, “absolutely devoted to Theresa and a little in awe of her.”
Mrs May told The Daily Mail that her husband gets frustrated when she takes a beating in the press. “It’s often harder for the other half because they are watching it and feel protective and think ‘Why are they saying that to my wife?’ He does feel some of the hurt. We’ve been married for 38 years, that’s a long time. He is my rock. It’s hugely important to have somebody there who is supportive of you, not involved in the intricacies of politics but there to provide human support.”
On BBC One Show, Mr May quipped, “I get to decide when I take the bins out. Not if I take them out.” He went on to say, “I do the traditional boy jobs, by and large,” sparking criticism that they adhere too strongly to traditional gender roles. However, on another occasion, Mrs May told The Telegraph, “Philip is very good at picking accessories,” while showing off a bracelet he had given her.
4. May Has Been Accused of Influencing His Wife in Ways That Hurt Her Ability to Get a Consensus on Brexit
Although Mr May does not advise the Prime Minister in an official capacity, it is well known that she does discuss important decisions with him and he is often called her closest advisor.
In January, Mr May urged his wife to keep fighting for her Brexit deal, believing that she could win over Tory Eurosceptics and others in the Democratic Unionist Party. Mr May’s advice enraged Cheif of Staff Gavin Barwell who said Mr May was obstructing plans for a cross-party deal that would establish a customs union with the EU.
Two sources confirmed to The Sunday Times that, “Philip May was flamed by Mr Barwell for scuppering the outreach to Labour.” Another source said Barwell, “took a pop at Philip May.”
Theresa May resigned as leader of her party on May 24, still unable to reach a consensus on Brexit.
5. Philip and Theresa May Have No Children
Philip and Theresa May have no children, a fact which Mrs May has only occasionally discussed publicly. She admitted to some regret in the matter, telling The Telegraph, “You look at families all the time and you see there is something there that you don’t have.”
The Mays have not indicated whether they are childless by choice or circumstance, but Mrs May at least seems to like kids. The Guardian reports that she happily recounted becoming a godmother in her teenage years.