What talents does Teresa May actually possess apart from the ability to cling onto power, and be the last person standing after the bruising Conservative Party leadership battle two years ago ?
Well, there are some echoes of her predecessors to compare and contrast, elements of which seem to have some resonance. For instance, she seems to have the negotiating prowess of Neville Chamberlain (Peace in Our Time). A little of the jarring charisma of Alec Douglas-Home (Landed Gentry in a time of 1960s meritocracy) . The ability to lay down the gauntlet (Who Governs Britain?) like Edward Heath or the crisis management skills of Antony Eden. The sense of timing of Gordon Brown (Selling Gold at under $300), and of course the gambling skills of David Cameron on the EU Referendum.
It would appear that in the shape of Theresa May we have a leader who is a greatest fails compilation of all her predecessors rolled up in one. Not so much “strong and stable” but rather more wibbly and wobbly in character.
That is not to say that Mrs May does not have an ace up her sleeve to mitigate any flaws. It comes in the form of the Big, Bad Wolf, Jeremy Corbyn. She can always say and no doubt has done countless times, that unless her party and the electorate back her it will be a case of the last one leaving the UK having to turn the lights off.
Indeed, given the alleged mayhem that would result in the aftermath of Prime Minister Corbyn one would imagine that there would be no lights to switch off.
But this apparent existential threat to life and limb notwithstanding, it still seems to be a miracle that the current incumbent of Downing Street has lasted so long. Ironically, at first it appeared that her leadership was such a mistake, the result of all the competent candidates stabbing each other in the bag and the front, for her to resign or be kicked out would merely underline the sheer folly of what had happened.
The aftermath of the whitewashed Brexit vote has, as many have observed been a time when we needed to have an ultra strong competent leader in the mould of a Churchill or a Thatcher, rather than someone who would struggle to maintain order at Saint Trinian’s.
In fact, it can be said if one wants to be just a little charitable, that the Prime Minister does have at least one core competence, she is remarkably good at reading prepared statements in a crisis. That said, it seems that the only plus point of Theresa May going on over and above the way she is the stop Corbyn candidate.
However as we saw from the Brexit vote, threatening the arrival of the Big Bad Wolf may not be any more effective than Project Fear was in 2016. The Great British voter proved then it can be quite happy to be voting for something which would have masochistic consequences, if this is the only way to protest against the ruling class.
It could very well be that while we may enjoy months or even years of Mrs May in power, the longer she stays there, the bigger the pent-up demand to get rid of her and elect Mr Corbyn with a sizeable majority. The analogies here would be Jim Callaghan clinging on until May 1979 and John Major ahead of Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide.
The Chequers sell-out has almost certainly been a catalyst to make such a scenario all the more likely, especially as it has underlined has been clear for years by her actions that Theresa May is an arch Remainer. There is nothing wrong with this – everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but hiding the fact was disingenous to say the least. Now she has two years on her CV as PM she clearly does not mind all and sundry knowing this fact.
Consequently, we have not had two years of transition towards Brexit we have actually had an Inverse Brexit whereby as much EU regulation as possible has been crammed in. Most notably City of London Trojan Horses MiFID II, GDPR and this month’s draconian ESMA regulations. All of these were waved through without a single bleat from the UK.
Alongside this there have been assurances regarding freedom of movement and the right to remain – for everyone and their mother. . So we have seen exactly the opposite of what was voted for. Not that the purpose of holding the vote was anything to do with such matters.
If nothing else we have learnt the power of the EU political and economic protection racket and how deeply entwined the political class and big business in the UK is with the Brussels gravy train. What was always a spider’s web of red tape and sovereignty erosion has become a permanent straitjacket which Westminster is obviously delighted with.
All that remains to be seen is how soon the penny drops regarding Mrs May’s Brexit stance deception, her inability to organise a drinks party in a brewery, and the reputational damage to this country in Europe and beyond. She is someone who should never have been more than a lowly minister, by a series of quirks of fate, occupying the top job as if some latter day Forrest Gump. Sooner or later the consequence of this will become all too apparent.