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Cardinal Nichols congratulates Theresa May on her imminent appointment as Prime Minister

Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street on Tuesday after the final Cabinet meeting with David Cameron as Prime Minister

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has congratulated Theresa May on her imminent appointment as Prime Minister.

In a letter, the Archbishop of Westminster said he was “only too aware of the magnitude of the undertaking” the new Prime Minister was accepting.

“I assure you of my prayers and those of the Catholic Community in England and Wales,” he added.

On Tuesday, David Cameron chaired his final cabinet meeting as prime minister before May takes over on Wednesday. A nine-week Conservative leadership race had just begun, but May’s rival Andrea Leadsom withdrew on Monday.

Cardinal Nichols, who is president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and May have previously worked together in the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery. She attended the first meeting of the Santa Marta Group in the Vatican in 2014, where in the presence of Pope Francis, police chiefs from more than 20 countries committed to working with the Church in combatting human trafficking.

“I am personally delighted at your appointment. I know from the work we have done together that you have so many qualities to bring to the service of our countries at this time. I appreciate the maturity of judgement, the steely resolve, the sense of justice and the personal integrity and warmth you have always shown,” Cardinal Nichols wrote.

“I thank you for the remarkable work you have accomplished for the victims of human trafficking, including your strong personal support for the establishment of the Santa Marta Group, demonstrated through your presence at its first meeting in Rome. This is a clear indication not only of your determination to use high political office for the protection of some of the world’s most vulnerable people but also of your willingness to work with the Catholic Church at its highest levels.”

The letter added: “As you take up this new and demanding office of Prime Minister, I assure you of my personal support and I look forward to working with you across a wide range of issues in service of the common good.”