Theresa May aims to refocus Britain's attention on social justice reform

After a series of setbacks surrounding Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May is pushing an agenda that addresses 'uncomfortable truths'  in health care, education, and the criminal justice systems. 

Hannah McKay/Reuters
Prime Minister Theresa May arrived at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Oct. 3. May is set to push her agenda for social reforms after setbacks surrounding Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May set out her quest to tackle social and racial injustice on Tuesday, hoping to shift the focus of her Conservative party's annual conference away from rifts over Britain's exit from the European Union and her leadership.

After a bruising start to the party's annual meeting in the city of Manchester, Ms. May will try to reset the agenda after remarks on Brexit policy by foreign minister Boris Johnson that deepened divisions in her top team of advisers.

She said an audit will be published on Oct. 10 spelling out the "uncomfortable truths" of life in Britain, showing how people of different racial backgrounds are treated in the health, education, employment, and the criminal justice system.

Her ministers will also announce policies to try to prove critics wrong and show that her government is working, including measures to toughen sentences of people streaming or browsing extremist material, and to increase nurse training.

"In doing this ground-breaking work we are holding a mirror up to our society," May said in a statement.

"My most fundamental political belief is that how far you go in life should be based on your talent and how hard you work – and nothing else."

But in early morning broadcast interviews, May was repeatedly asked about her relationship with Mr. Johnson after he set out four personal red lines for the Brexit negotiations to unravel more than 40 years of union.

"I don't set red lines," May told BBC television, describing her cabinet of top ministers as united over Brexit.

"Leadership is about ensuring that you have a team of people who aren't yes men, but a team of people of different voices around the table so that we can discuss matters, come to an agreement, and then put that government view forward, and that is exactly what we've done."

May promised to build a "country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few" when she became prime minister just over a year ago after Britons voted narrowly to leave the EU and her predecessor David Cameron stepped down.

But she has had to shelve many of her domestic policies – such as social care and corporate reforms – since losing the Conservatives' majority in parliament in a June election. That setback has undermined the party's confidence in her ability to lead it into the next election, due in 2022.

The preliminary findings of the audit showed that the unemployment rate for black, Asian and minority ethnic people of working age is nearly double that for white groups, while more than nine in 10 headteachers are white, the government said.

The findings, the government says, can help better target training and mentoring programs.

"The idea itself is not new," May said.

"Charles Booth's maps of rich and poor areas in Victorian London drew attention to hardship that was too often hidden – but this focus on how ethnicity affects people's lives will present findings that are uncomfortable." 

This story was reported by Reuters.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Theresa May aims to refocus Britain's attention on social justice reform
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today