Theresa May breaks away from David Cameron's policy agenda


In her first 100 days as Prime Minister, Theresa May has broken away from David Cameron's policy agenda in several key areas.

She told the Conservative conference in Birmingham that "a change is going to come". Here are some of the changes she has made so far:

:: Europe

The Conservative election manifesto stated "We say Yes to the Single Market", and Mr Cameron campaigned hard for continued EU membership.

Despite her own low-profile support for Remain, Mrs May has made clear her determination to take Britain out of the EU, repeatedly intoning that "Brexit means Brexit". 

And she has indicated that her priority for a post-Brexit deal is control over immigration, which most observers believe will force the UK out of the Single Market. Her creation of a Department for International Trade under arch-Brexiteer Liam Fox and her insistence that the UK will negotiate as an independent sovereign nation suggests that she also expects Britain to leave the European customs union and forge a series of new trade deals.

:: Immigration

Convinced that the Brexit vote amounted to a demand for the UK to regain control over its borders, Mrs May has stepped up Government efforts to meet the goal, first set out by Mr Cameron, to get net immigration below 100,000 a year.

Tory conference saw her lead a drive to get far tougher than her predecessor on migrants, with proposals including stricter tests for foreign students and mandatory immigration checks for taxi drivers. However, she swiftly backed away from proposals for employers to publish lists of foreign employees, after a horrified response from business.

:: Education

Eton-educated David Cameron made a point of resisting grassroots Tory pressure for more grammar schools, though he did allow the expansion of existing grammars. In opposition, he said the issue would show whether the Tories were a party of government or a "right-wing debating society" and in 2007 he insisted the debate was "pointless" as parents did not want children sorted into sheep and goats at 11. Mrs May has said she will overturn the "arbitrary" ban on new grammars which has been in place since 1998, declaring that her priority is to provide more good or outstanding schools of whatever type.

:: Economy

Mrs May has signalled a sharp move away from George Osborne's economic strategy, ditching his plans to return the public finances to surplus by 2020 and making clear her readiness to borrow to invest.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has indicated he will "reset" tax and spending policy in his Autumn Statement next month, when he is expected to use big investment announcements in an attempt to inject vigour into the economy in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Mrs May clashed with Bank of England governor Mark Carney after making clear she wants to bring an end to the era of ultra-low interest rates and quantitative easing to stimulate the post-crash economy, which she said have had "bad side effects" on savers and people without assets.

:: Industrial Strategy

Mrs May has broken with Tory predecessors going back to Margaret Thatcher by insisting on the role of Government in intervening in "dysfunctional" markets and supporting key industrial sectors. She has promised seats for workers and consumers on company boards.

Where Mr Cameron often voiced his desire to help "hard-working families", Mrs May has made an explicit pitch for the blue-collar vote with a promise to govern in the interests of "ordinary working-class people".

:: Northern Powerhouse

Mrs May initially appeared reluctant to utter the phrase "Northern Powerhouse", leading some to speculate that she was jettisoning Mr Osborne's flagship scheme to regenerate the north of England. But the Powerhouse made it into her conference speech, alongside the Midlands Engine, and aides have said that the PM wants to replicate the project all around the regions of the country. Mr Osborne has set up a thinktank to stop his ideas being watered down.

:: China

Mrs May's surprise delay to the Chinese-funded Hinkley Point nuclear power plant may have ended in September with a go-ahead for the project. But it marked a distinct shift in the tone of the Government's relationship with Beijing.

Under Mr Cameron, China was wooed enthusiastically, with ministers hailing a "golden era" in which the UK would become the Far Eastern giant's partner of choice in the West. By contrast, Mrs May has taken a more cautious approach, with aides reported to be wary about allowing the People's Republic control over vital pieces of national infrastructure.

:: Whitehall

Mrs May's decision to scrap the Department for Energy and Climate Change was condemned by green campaigners and signalled a potential move away from Mr Cameron's vow to lead the "greenest government ever".

Her creation of a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy indicated her ambition to develop the industrial strategy which Mr Cameron had been accused - not least by former business secretary Sir Vince Cable - of neglecting.