Maybe it is better being a lucky PM than a good one
THE accidental Prime Minister might be an incidental genius. Or maybe, like a good Napoleonic general, she’s just lucky. Theresa May was the Tory chairman who dubbed her outfit the ‘nasty party’ – yet she survived.
In government, she was handed the graveyard of many political careers – the Home Office. Even with Liberal Democrats as coalition partners, she survived.
She missed immigration targets, was the architect of the Windrush scandal and the ‘hostile’ environment for those coming into this country – yet she survived.
A Brexiteer by instinct but a Remainer by thought, she largely hid during the EU referendum that David Cameron so foolishly called. Had he not lost that vote she might have been a reshuffled footnote in history. But he lost and she won.
Even when he resigned, she was not the favourite. Boris Johnson should have become the leader – but then he was knifed by Michael Gove. Andrea Leadsom was an unlikely favourite who then imploded.
The Prime Minister by default then called a general election she didn’t need to call. She blew a 20 per cent lead in the polls with one of the worst campaigns of recent times and lost a Tory majority. Yet she survived.
The ‘dead woman walking’ walks on.
Handed the worst hand of any Prime Minister since Neville Chamberlain, she is negotiating a Brexit deal that she does not believe in.
POLITICAL rivals have walked out of her Cabinet in protest at her Chequers deal; EU partners have said they reject her proposals – and yet she survives. Theresa May has little charisma. She is easily written off. But if you look at her record, it is difficult not to come to the conclusion that she is the ultimate political survivor.
Opponents, such as her resigned Brexit Secretary David Davies, like to comment on the nature of negotiations. Talk of gambits and positioning. Clever thinking.
Theresa May does not – yet she has out-manouvred Boris Johnson who, even with the ruthless Jacob Rees-Mogg at his sleeve, cannot raise the numbers to challenge her.
To be fair, there are people close to Number Ten who will tell you that hers is a hand-to-mouth existence; that there is no strategy other than to survive the day.
But the point is that she does survive. What bookmaker would bet against her?
There are many suitors who would like to succeed her, but few who would like to fill her shoes right now.
Hers is a poisoned chalice few want to sup from until it is drained.
No one can be certain about what the next six months will deliver as the Brexit negotiations go on.
Theresa May’s position seems to be to deliver Brexit in name only. In that there is sense. She will neither ignore what we call the will of the people expressed in the 2016 referendum nor implement an act of self-harm. She will not pander to the extremes of her party nor allow it to fall apart.
In this, she is exercising her sense of duty, however uncomfortable the business of doing that might appear.
Theresa May might be a politician of yesteryear. Someone, like Clement Attlee or Gordon Brown, who does not have much charisma but who does have a sense of purpose.
It is said of politicians that history will be kinder to them than current critics are. That is cold comfort.
But Theresa May should at least be given a degree of respect.
Granted, her handling has not been faultless but who else would want to hold this particular ball at this particular time?
Whatever her faults, we have a Prime Minister who is a survivor. Maybe that means we’ll all survive this current upheaval too.
SURVIVOR: Theresa May has so far overcome all the political odds