Theresa May: un­flap­pable but in­scrutable

The Week Middle East - - News -

A prime min­is­ter’s first 100 days in of­fice can be “an un­re­li­able guide” to the fate of their premier­ship as a whole, said Sean O’Grady in The In­de­pen­dent. John Ma­jor, for in­stance, was “the most pop­u­lar PM in his­tory in the early days, only to be one of the least rated in­side a cou­ple of years”. Gor­don Brown like­wise en­joyed a de­cent hon­ey­moon pe­riod be­fore things went south for him. So we should per­haps be cau­tious about draw­ing too many con­clu­sions about Theresa May from her first 100 days in power, which she com­pleted last week. Things are likely to get much harder for the PM from here on in, said The Sun­day Times. But it’s fair to say that she has got off to a solid start, adapt­ing to her new lead­er­ship role with “the as­sur­ance of some­body who had al­ways hoped, even ex­pected, to do it”. May has cer­tainly shown her­self to be “un­flap­pable”, said Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail. And she has brought a wel­come change of style to Down­ing Street. There’s less fo­cus on clever news man­age­ment and sound bites, and more on tra­di­tional cab­i­net govern­ment. “Tony Blair’s no­to­ri­ous so­fas have been jet­ti­soned – and re­placed with desks.” It is also now pos­si­ble to speak of a po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy called “May­ism”. She sup­ports so­cially con­ser­va­tive ideas such as ex­pand­ing gram­mar schools and is an unashamed sup­porter of pa­tri­o­tism, yet she also be­lieves the state has a role to play in pro­tect­ing or­di­nary peo­ple from the ex­cesses of global cap­i­tal­ism. May re­mains, for all that, some­thing of an un­known quan­tity, said Fraser Nel­son in The Daily Tele­graph. One EU leader com­plained that he learnt more from her Tory party con­fer­ence speech than he did from meet­ing her. Among her col­leagues, she is also “famous for giv­ing al­most noth­ing away”. Judg­ing from the way May has chal­lenged both the decades-old con­sen­sus on gram­mar schools and the con­ven­tion that PMs don’t crit­i­cise Bank of Eng­land pol­icy, she is clearly not afraid of mak­ing en­e­mies. But whether she’s ready to back her bold words with ac­tion re­mains to be seen. One thing’s for sure: with the other po­lit­i­cal par­ties in ut­ter dis­ar­ray, she’ll never get a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity to in­tro­duce rad­i­cal re­forms in this coun­try. May faces lit­tle in the way of po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion, agreed the FT. But on the other hand, she is hob­bled by pre­car­i­ous pub­lic fi­nances, the loom­ing Brexit is­sue and a very nar­row par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity. The last prob­lem could be fixed by call­ing an early elec­tion, but she has pledged not to do so. So for now, at least, we’re left with a prime min­is­ter who is “some­how im­pe­ri­ous and be­lea­guered at the same time”.

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