Friday, May 24, 2019

Why did Theresa May want to be PM in the first place?

I surprised myself by being forgiving when Margaret Thatcher died and Tony Blair resigned, but I find it hard to say anything obliging about Theresa May.

She came to power speaking of burning injustices, yet we never heard them mentioned again or saw any action to right them.

At the Home Office and then Number 10, her reign was characterised by measures that made life harder for people who had settled in Britain from abroad. So much so that it is hard to resist the conclusion that she is personally racist.

And then there is Brexit.

May kept her head down during the referendum campaign, but before then was a sensible for for Remain.

Yet when she came to power she adopted the most hardline pro-Leave position possible. There was no attempt to unite a nation split almost down the middle. Notoriously, those who like to think of themselves as citizens of the world, were dismissed as citizens of nowhere.

At the same time, she painted herself into a corner with red lines that ensured that any deal she signed up to was bound to be narrow and harmful to Britain.

And all these attempts to appeal to the pro-Leave right failed, as they were always bound to. They take any concessions as a sign of weakness and harden their demands.

The overwhelming feeling I am left with by Theresa May's career is one of puzzlement. Why did she want to be prime minister? What did she imagine she was going to achieve?

Her claim today that "I was driven to make the United Kingdom a country that works not just for a privileged few but for everyone" is impossible to reconcile with the evidence.

And her quoting of Sir Nicholas Winton was toe-curlingly embarrassing given her record on refugees.

So my puzzlement remains. Why did she want to be prime minister in the first place?

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