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Home Secretary Theresa May tells of her vicarage upbringing

28 November 2014

THE Home Secretary, Theresa May, described last week how her father, the Revd Hubert Brasier, was happy for her, aged 12, to stuff envelopes at the local Conservative Association, but urged her not to trumpet her politics.

"As far as he was concerned, he was the vicar for the whole parish; so I shouldn't be out on the street parading my politics," she told Kirsty Young, her interviewer on Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 last week.

Mrs May, the longest-serving Home Secretary in 50 years, described a childhood where "everything did revolve very much around the church"

She felt, however, "hugely privileged" to have had the childhood she did. She had never rebelled against the church, "because it was never really imposed on me by my parents".

Still a practising member of the Church of England, her faith was "part of who I am, and therefore how I approach things". But asked about the very public faith of American politicians, she suggested: "It's right that we don't sort-of-flaunt these things here in British politics."

She decided to enter politics because "I wanted to make a difference to people's lives," she said. "I don't have an 'ism' other than Conservatism. But I do believe in certain principles: individual freedom, of people being able to make better decisions than the Government; of aspiration and opportunity.

"But, as a politician, you also have to be pragmatic. I just want to get on and do the best that I can."

Her choice for the final track was her favourite hymn, "When I survey the wondrous Cross", sung by the Wesley's Chapel congregation, "so I can get that feel of being in a body of a church with the people around around me".

Introduced by Ms Young as something of an enigma who spoke little about her personal life, the Home Secretary revealed that she had chosen "Dancing Queen" by Abba as something to "jig up and dance to a bit", and that she would request, on the island, a lifetime's subscription to Vogue.

Pressed about what she had thought when introduced to her future husband, Philip, by Benazir Bhutto at a Conservative Association disco at Oxford University, she replied: "I quite liked him."

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