Theresa May

2016 - 2019

May (1956- ) was the daughter of a Church of England clergyman, educated at state and modest independent schools before attending St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, where she graduated with a second-class degree in geography. She then worked at the Bank of England and in financial services, as well as serving on the London Borough of Merton Council, before being selected for Maidenhead at the 1997 election.

May entered the Shadow Cabinet in 1999, and became Chairman of the Conservative Party in 2002, thrilling Labour supporters by referring to the Conservatives as “the Nasty Party.” This endeared her to the Cameron wing of the party after 2005, and in 2010 she became Home Secretary. Here she was simultaneously anti-libertarian and anti-nationalist, failing to fulfil Conservative manifesto pledges on reducing immigration.

Having tepidly supported “Remain” in the 2016 EU referendum, May benefited after Cameron’s resignation by an outbreak of bickering and incompetence by the Brexit-supporting claimants Boris Johnson and Michael Gove (1967- ). As leader, she had one admittedly very difficult job -- to get Britain out of the EU. Alas, she relied too heavily on her “Remain”-fanatic Civil Service and her Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (1955- ), who allowed the EU to construct a booby-trapped exit deal with a massive unjustifiable payment from Britain, which was rightly rejected by Parliament three times. Even then, she could have made herself a hero to most supporters by allowing the “Article 50” deadline to push Britain out of the EU on a “no deal” basis – but she either lacked the guts for this or was secretly manoeuvring for “Brexit” to fail.

Claims that May was Britain’s worst Prime Minister are excessive – there is a great deal of competition for that position – but even when a longer-term perspective can be taken, she will rank near the bottom of the list.

© 2020 Martin Hutchinson