In praise of our Prime Minister (for now) - Theresa May

Hardly the greatest PM Britain has ever seen, yet still equally deserving of our admiration

8 MPs gone. 23 letters of no confidence. An irreconcilable party divide. An unenviable negotiation.

Theresa May has hardly sailed the calmest waters during her time (which may soon be coming to an end) as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Having been in office during a torrid moment in British history, burdened with the task of exiting the European Union while holding her belligerent Conservative party together, one must hold Mrs May to a certain degree of admiration; if not for her tenacity then for the resilience that she has shown as a female world leader living in a society largely dominated by the patriarchy.

As Prime Minister, she has arguably been treated with an abysmal level of respect. Whilst it became common to see numerous critiques of May’s fashion choices - ranging from her famous leopard print mules to her rambunctious print dresses - I have yet to read an article appraising a male minister/figure of authority on a tie that “clashed terribly with his complexion". Of course, these criticisms do not stop short of the style May has adopted; other remarks made about her general character, her dancing, her cough, her hair, her voice and more can frequently be seen on the front pages of tabloid and broadsheet newspapers alike.

That isn’t to say that Theresa May’s choices have all been wise, or that she is a faultless human being. On the contrary, many take issue with her management of the aftermath of the Grenfell Fire, as well as the policies she has implemented that aimed to create a hostile environment for ethnic minorities, not to mention the controversy surrounding the handling of Windrush migrants. She is also a mediocre media performer and her decisions regarding Brexit haven’t always been the most astute either. By introducing her infamous ‘red lines’ and triggering Article 50 prematurely, May succeeded in making it substantially harder to strike a Brexit deal that would protect the UK’s economic interests. She has failed to manage public expectations about leaving the EU, the snap election in 2017 was confused and dour, and her choice of cabinet ministers has been disappointingly poor.

Mrs May’s Brexit deal is broadly perceived as rotten but it is probably the best that could have been achieved if the starting point was ending free movement of people. Mrs May made a critical, correct calculation that most Britons just want to get on with Brexit. They want a deal that results in tougher borders, an end of large sums of money going to Brussels and a sense of “taking back control” in their lives. Mrs May appears to be succeeding on all those fronts. Outside the Westminster bubble there is a growing sense that she is the only grown-up who can guide the country through this traumatic time, though her survival depends purely on an argument once favoured by Margaret Thatcher: “There Is No Alternative”.

She is unlikely to be remembered as one of the great British prime ministers. But in an era when the pretenders to the throne struggle to articulate a better plan, the Conservative party should let Theresa May get on with her very arduous job. She is not the heroine Britain wants, nor particularly needs, but in her own words “I got us into this mess and I'm going to get us out of it”.

Carol VII