British Prime Minister Theresa May recently sat down with Vogue to talk fashion, her husband’s cooking, and why Donald Trump is a “gentleman.”
The interview, shot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, took place about a week before May was due to start exit negotiations between the U.K. and the European Union in advance of 2019’s so-called Brexit.
“One of the things we’ve seen happening in recent years in politics is an increasing lack of trust between people and the politicians,” May, wearing a navy blue L.K. Bennett coat and dress, told Vogue. “I think it’s very important that people feel that politicians are holding faith with them. And Parliament having said to the public, ‘You vote, you decide,’ we need to deliver on it for them. So yes, I did vote to remain. But also what’s important is that the country feels, I think, that it wants to come together.”
May’s diplomacy recently came under scrutiny in January after a meeting with President Trump, when she was criticized for not speaking out against his executive orders to stop refugees and people from seven Muslim-populated countries from entering the United States. That meeting earned her the name “Theresa the Appeaser.”
May faced further embarrassment when a photo of her, in which she is seen holding hands with Trump at the White House, circulated online. “I think he was actually being a gentleman,” May told Vogue. “We were about to walk down a ramp, and he said it might be a bit awkward.”
May added, “I like to think we got on. I mean, obviously he has, uh … it was a stunning election victory, in that he’s someone who has not been involved in politics.” When asked about pressure she faced from women to address the president’s controversial comments about women, May said, “Well, I don’t… we don’t comment on private conversations that take place. All I would say is, I’ve been very clear: I’m not afraid to raise issues. And the nature of the relationship is such that we should be able to be frank and open with each other.”
May was candid about Philip May, her husband of 36 years, whom she’s previously called her “rock,” addressing the long-standing fascination with the couple’s decision to not have children. “I’ve been fortunate that he’s been very supportive to me … there’s something, which is the bond between you, that develops over time,” she told Vogue. On life without kids, she added, “Look, it’s one of those things. We didn’t have children. You just get on with life.”
According to Vogue, the couple lives in Sonning, a village in Berkshire, England, also home to George and Amal Clooney. And despite their high-profile status, the Mays spend time like any other couple, taking walks together and reading books. “We have a very good system,” she said. “I cook, and he puts everything in the dishwasher.” And: “Do you know, I think we argue about the same things that most people argue about — like, who has the remote? And what we’re watching tonight. His history program? No — NCIS!”
However, unlike many politicians, May has no personal stylist and is irked by the media describing her favorite outfits as “recycled,” pointing out to Vogue, “There aren’t many people who buy things to wear only once.” In December, May’s wardrobe was the subject of controversy after she gave an interview to the Sunday Times Magazine wearing a pair of $1,250 Amanda Wakeley leather pants. In what became known as “Trousergate,” May was deemed elitist for the designer pants and then further angered the public after refusing to disclose whether she had paid full price for them. What followed was a public debate about the double standard that female politicians face for wearing designer clothing (such as the fascination with Hillary Clinton’s hairstyles or her $12,500 Armani jacket).
But May brushes off any fascination with her appearance. “Look, throughout my political career, people have commented on what I wear,” she told Vogue. “That’s just something that happens, and you accept that. But it doesn’t stop me from going out and enjoying fashion. And I also think it’s important to be able to show that a woman can do a job like this and still be interested in clothes.”
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