Farewell Theresa May, the prime minister that left Britain with Boris in charge!
May tearfully announced she was quitting as Conservative leader and, de facto, prime minister in late May, then officially quit on June 7, but has been clinging on until now. Trying to leave anything in British politics has to be a painfully drawn out affair these days.
There’s an argument that the six weeks since May quit has been among her most successful, or perhaps the least painful, because in her calamitous tenure as prime minister, they were about as good as it got.
She spent most of her three years in power as a political football being kicked between Brussels and her own party in Westminster as she failed to achieve Brexit. A couple of months of being leader without having to be a leader must have been sweet relief for her.
So how exactly will Theresa May be remembered by posterity?
May might be remembered as one of the most resilient prime ministers of our time, and the most impervious to criticism. I’m not talking about the way she kept going back to Parliament with the same Brexit deal even though it kept getting rejected. I’m not talking about the way she brushed off the biggest parliamentary defeat ever suffered by a prime minister. I’m talking about the dancing. May danced badly and she danced often, on foreign trips and at party conferences. It was her most endearing characteristic, which is not really a compliment for a prime minister.
She could be remembered as a politician so devoid of what most of us would recognize as human charisma or emotion that she was nicknamed the Maybot. If this is how Artificial Intelligence performs, then fears of a Terminator-style future have been severely overblown.
She’ll always be the person who called a snap election with ultimate confidence that she could extend her parliamentary majority and get Brexit wrapped up by Christmas, only to see her majority shrink as people voted for avuncular Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn instead, a man who can’t even rely on the support of most of his own MPs.
Perhaps the images history will look back on will be May’s series of calamities at key moments. The coughing fit at her conference fightback, the car door that stuck as she arrived at a meeting with Germany’s chancellor, or the images of her standing on the sidelines of an EU leaders’ dinner like the smelly but hopeful kid at prom.
Who can forget her response to the question: “What is the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done?” She replied: “Running through fields of wheat.” Damaging crops is definitely naughty, but I’m not sure it’s up there with a policy of austerity that has seen more families at food banks and less cops on the street.
Of course, she also introduced the phrase ‘highly likely’ into the political lexicon, introducing a new level of evidence needed to sink interstate relations in the aftermath of the Skripal poisoning affair.Also on rt.com ‘Highly likely’ is the new evidence: Five times Western officials had no proof but media fell for it
It could be that history won’t remember her very much, and her time will be seen either as a halcyon period of calm before things got really interesting, or as a missed opportunity to avert whatever comes next.
My prediction is she’ll simply be remembered as the person who failed so badly that Britain ended up with Boris Johnson as prime minister.
By Simon Rite
Simon Rite is a writer based in London for RT, in charge of several projects including the political satire group #ICYMI.
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