And there we have it: the reign of May is at an end. On Friday morning the Prime Minister stepped up to a podium set before the door of No.10 and announced she was off. Although not quite yet. She will stand down as Tory leader on June 7th to allow for the election of a new leader, then, once they have been chosen by around mid-July, she will resign the office of Prime Minister, allowing the new Conservative leader to replace her.
Now the possibility of her deal being voted on again has passed, it seems the only reason she is delaying until the 7th is to make sure that the country at least has someone in charge when President Donald ‘tiny hands’ Trump arrives for his state visit at the beginning of June. Oh goodie!
Even though it was quite obviously her party with the blood of her regicide on their hands, as is customary, they all rushed in with platitudes and pleasantries about her and her leadership – resulting in some of the most profoundly hypocritical nonsense politicians have ever spouted. Even Boris Johnson tweeted his praise of her tenure. You will find none of that here.
Illustration by Rhiannon Powell
May has been, without doubt, the worst Prime Minister I have seen in my lifetime and I’d wager for quite some time before as well. The press has been full of people saying that anybody in her position would have suffered the same difficulties, this is surely not the case. May is singularly lacking in any form of personality, and when her speechwriters tried to force one on her (remember the ‘Dancing Queen’ incident?) it came across as unnatural as a dog on water-skis.
This made her particularly unpopular across the party divide in Parliament, which is still a place based on smooth talking, schmoozing and networking, three things of which she is incapable. But her lack of personality really shone through when she called that snap election back in 2017. Ahead in the polls beforehand, she expected to return to Parliament with an even larger majority than the one she inherited from Cameron. The Maybot’s appalling disconnect with human beings on the campaign trail put an end to any hope of that and utterly crushed her power in Parliament.
At this point, historical precedent demands that she should have resigned, but this cockroach of a PM kept limping on through crisis after crisis. Almost every week for nearly three years there was something over which she shouldhave resigned. The biggest of these issues was Brexit, of course, and the illogical path to which she decided to unerringly stick. It split her party even more, it split the Commons amongst themselves, it split the people against the politicians, it split the country and very nearly the Union of the UK.
Her legacy will be that of a long, drawn-out chain of repeated and consistent failures on all fronts. The tearful ending to her resignation speech on Friday will pull on the heartstrings of very few, despite it being one of the few signs of humanity that we have seen from this uniquely uncharismatic leader.
So, with her dealt with, our attention turns to her successor. As reported last week, Boris Johnson has already put his hat into the ring and leads the pack. Remember, the leadership hopefuls are whittled down to two by Tory MPs and then the Conservative membership across the country elect the winner. Johnson is only popular with a small group of MPs but by all accounts, is widely popular with the membership. Famously a Leave campaigner, his opposition on that side of the fence comes from Dominic Raab (number of ‘a’s to taste) and Michael Gove, the former is pro a no-deal exit whilst Gove backs a softer, May-esque departure.
Also a contender is Andrea Leadsom, who ran against May in the last leadership competition before she pulled out. Leadsom has much backing from the right wing of the party and has separated herself from the toxic May by resigning her cabinet post shortly before the speech on Friday. Similarly eyeing up the titles of both 3rd female PM and 3rd female Tory leader is Amber Rudd, one-time Home Sec and close confidant of May. However, at time of writing, rumours suggest that she may not run herself and instead put her weight behind Boris, an unusual pairing but it could do him a lot of good to be seen alongside a more moderate Conservative.
There are several other outlying candidates – Sajid Javid, Matt Hancock, Jeremy Hunt etc. – who may stand more of a chance than you think. It seems tradition with Conservative leadership elections that it’s never the person you expect who wins out in the end – think Thatcher/Heseltine/Major in the early ‘90s!
Certainly, interesting times lie ahead of us.
Mind how you go.