Mrs May in government

Yesterday Mrs May’s tenure as Leader of the Conservative party ended, though she remains as acting leader and Prime Minister until her successor is appointed. As her neighbour and friend I have sought to help her and give her positive  advice in office. I wish her a good future however she wishes to develop her life as she stands down from the biggest political job in the country. She has given a lot of energy and determination to the job of PM, and has a strong sense of public service and duty.

Her tenure as Home Secretary from 2010 to 2016 was long lived, demonstrating her ability to avoid some of the pitfalls of life in the Home Office that had tripped up previous Home Secretaries who lasted for shorter periods of time there. The main promise she made that was an important part of the Conservative 2010 Manifesto was the promise to cut net migration from the high levels of the later Labour years to 100,000 or below, still double the typical figure under John Major. She never got anywhere near hitting this target. She stuck with it, recognising the importance of it to some Conservative voters. Her efforts to do so were hampered by membership of the EU at a time when freedom of movement rules required us to welcome a large number of migrants from eastern Europe. She did not, however, manage to control non EU migration as promised either. She did good work on highlighting and curbing modern slavery and on opposing discrimination against people on  grounds of race and sex.

In 2016 after Mr Cameron’s resignation she won the leadership when the second placed candidate from the MP ballot decided not to pursue her challenge through a ballot of the wider party membership. She commanded a clear majority of the MPs. Her tenure as PM began well, with all the party including  those of us who had not voted for her willing her to succeed. With Nick Timothy as her adviser she listened to those of us who had backed Leave. We worked together well to craft the legal framework needed to get us out of the EU. This successful collaboration saw the government pass the EU Withdrawal Notification Act to send the letter of notice to the EU with big  majorities. We went on to help her get through the EU Withdrawal Act itself, to take us out in UK law. Though we faced a united opposition from all other parties in the Commons apart from the DUP, and although there were some rebel Remain Conservatives, the co-operation worked and the government carried the Bill.

As soon as the Bill was passed Mrs May ceased co-operating with the large Leave group of Conservatives and adopted in secret what became the Chequers plan. She made a series of damaging concessions to the EU in the negotiations and trusted a few politicians and civil service advisers who shared her view that the UK needed a comprehensive partnership with the EU after leaving, and needed to accept a very disadvantageous Withdrawal Treaty. This entailed breaking the Manifesto promise to negotiate any withdrawal issues in parallel with the future relationship.

I and others urged her not to adopt or to pursue the Chequers proposals, and not to attempt to agree or put through the draft Withdrawal Treaty. At crucial moments we urged her to refuse more concessions to the EU and to make more demands for the UK, but she did not want to. As we warned her, the draft treaty went down to a calamitous huge defeat. She also suffered an unprecedented run of Ministerial resignations over the same single policy. Instead of heeding the warnings and telling the EU the draft Treaty was unacceptable she spent her last months in a futile series of attempts to get it through the Commons. When she decided to delay our exit and fight the European elections she reached the tipping point where a majority of the Parliamentary Conservative party no longer had confidence in her approach and she had to resign. More importantly she lost the confidence of a large section of the Leave voting electorate, with dire consequences for the Conservative party in recent  elections.

Tomorrow I will look at other parts of her legacy.



  1. Ian wragg
    June 8, 2019

    She was an unmitigated disaster as Home Secretary, presiding over an ever increasing immigration number.
    She was even worse as PM and should hold the title of worst PM in history.
    She tried to sell us out to Brussels and she should be tried for treason.

    1. Peter
      June 8, 2019

      Agreed. I certainly cannot think of a single positive thing to say about her.

      Most people are delighted and relieved that she is finally no longer the leader of the Conservative Party. At the same time, there is great concern that she can remain prime minister for so long and could still do further damage.

      Her deceit, duplicitous behaviour and Machiavellian scheming around Chequers should have been the end of her.

      1. Hope
        June 8, 2019

        Abu Qa da anyone. She could not even deport him because of her love for the EU.

    2. Mike Stallard
      June 8, 2019

      This is too strong. But here in Wisbech, a small country town, which has felt the brunt of unlimited immigration over the past 15 years or so, we have just four Police supported by 7 CPSOs – and I nearly forgot the Community Support Officer.

      1. Hope
        June 8, 2019

        JR looking at her term through rose tinted glasses. As Home Secretary she had an appalling record and one where secrecy and rail roading her big state micro management ideas through. Was Sedwill not her advisor there as well?
        Snoopers charter where she has allowed all sorts of public bodies to look at our computers without normal safe guards like a warrant etc as David Davis advocated.
        European Arrest Warrant where we can be whisked away, again, without any UK safeguard to protect us from despsots.
        Vindictive towards the police cutting the nibblers by 20,000. In 2014 prevented stop and search which became the norm. Hence the current largest murder rate and knife crimes in forty years.
        Vindictive towards Border Agency. Over 200,000 illegal immigrants lost to her system claimed the Home Office. “In no stretch of the imagination” are the borders secure stated the inspectorate!
        Gay marriage against public wishes championed by her without manifesto or Queens Speech.
        Worse PM in living memory and the most dishonest. Secrecy does not begin to describe what she did for her Chequers plan in stark contrast to what she told the country in her Lancaster speech. Dishonest Kit Kat policy tohidz true costs and ties from public still needs to be investigated.
        She tries to destroy democracy without a second thought thinking she knows best, she has very nearly destroyed your party and sold out the nation on Brexit.
        Legacy, she needs to be investigated over the dishonest Kit Kat policy caught on camera. an inquiry to establish if there is/was any conflict of interest between her husband’s work with Capital Group and defence industries. Good riddance.

        1. S Lazenby
          June 9, 2019

          I can’t argue with any of these citicisms. And I doubt you only covered a small number. No mention of the part the Civil Servants played in these dishonest dealings. Good riddance indeed.

    3. J Bush
      June 8, 2019

      I agree, looking back at her actions over the last 2 years or so, it is clear she didn’t want to leave the EU. I am also left with the impression she agreed to the awful WA as it was a deserved punishment to the electorate for having the audacity to want to leave.

      1. Mitchel
        June 8, 2019

        She served the Establishment rather than the people-as will the next one,unless you are very,very lucky.The problem is not the figurehead,it is with the forces that lie behind.

        1. Mark B
          June 10, 2019


    4. Leslie Singleton
      June 8, 2019

      Dear Ian–Totally agree–Her ghastliness was probably headed, in a crowded field, by her duplicity but besides that she was wrong like clockwork on everything, not to mention her inability ever to explain what she was doing except with repetitive mantras that she obviously didn’t believe. She had no idea at all how to begin to inspire the country. Incredible that the Tory Party should have allowed her to go near power in the first place and to have allowed her to go on for so long.

    5. jerry
      June 8, 2019

      @Ian Wragg; TM was the democratically elected PM, the WA is still leaving the “European Union”, just not how you and many others on this site would wish, that is not treasonous at all, but trying to subvert said democracy, by claiming a mandate were non exists, might well be if judged by your own logic…

      1. Ian wragg
        June 8, 2019

        Bull , May was crowned PM and after Lancaster House speech did everything to thwart Brexit.

        1. jerry
          June 8, 2019

          @Ian Wragg; Oh do stop taking utter bull, on stilts, yourself. Forgotten the 2017 general election have you, May is the democratically elected PM, the WA was agreed after the 2017 GE.

          1. ian wragg
            June 8, 2019

            That still doesn’t make her a democratically elected PM.

          2. Edward2
            June 8, 2019

            Calm Jerry
            Please stop shouting at everybody on here.
            Other people have different opinions to you.
            Perhaps you need to accept that fact.

          3. APL
            June 9, 2019

            Jerry: “Forgotten the 2017 general election have you, May is the democratically elected PM,”

            No. But she was the democratically elected member for the constituency of Maidenhead.

            As to the 2017 general election, it’s generally accepted that going into an election with an out right majority then losing that majority as a result of the election is not a ringing endorsement of the policies you as Prime Minister pursued while in office or put up for approval in your parties election manifesto.

            That election was the Tories to win handsomly, that they managed to lose their majority was an indictment of Tory leadership.

            I have a sneaking suspicion that May wanted to lose that election outright and tried as hard as she could. Had she lost, all the turmoil being suffered by the Tory party would now be Labour issue.

          4. jerry
            June 9, 2019

            @NickC; @APL; Both of your rationales are flawed, unless you really are claiming that NO serving PM has ever been the legitimate PM of the UK because they are not directly elected as PM.

            @Edward2; Stop trolling.

          5. Edward2
            June 9, 2019

            Do calm down Jerry
            You returned to this site a while ago, having left in a huff and wrote some good posts.
            You are now getting all cross and arguing with everyone again.

          6. jerry
            June 9, 2019

            @Edward2; That sort of comment says far more about you than it ever does me.

        2. Edward2
          June 9, 2019

          I will let you have the last word Jerry.
          I know how important it is to you when you are in an argumentative mood.

    6. rose
      June 8, 2019

      She was also a disastrous Party Chairman. Compare her tenure to Parkinson and Tebbit’s.

      It seems to me she was always appointed, including to the last position, because she was a woman, and not because she was any good. I am now expecting her to be the first Governess of the Bank of England.

      1. jerry
        June 8, 2019

        @rose; All three were disastrous, Parkinson and Tebbit’s, periods as chairman only appear a success because there was no meaningful opposition.

        As for your comment about Women, some might suggest the same with regards Mrs T, or should I say why she stayed so long…

        1. rose
          June 9, 2019

          Those were different days: Mrs T achieved what she did despite being a woman, not because of it.

          1. jerry
            June 9, 2019

            @rose; No they were not different days, or has the economic theory changed, I do not hear people talking about being in a post Monetarist era, like they did in the late 1970s when Keynesian economic theory fell by the wayside.

    7. Elli Ron
      June 8, 2019

      Fully agree.
      The front page of Private Eye, hilarious: Theresa May Memorial issue; The PM’s legacy in full.
      Followed by a White blamk page
      Sometimes a blank page tells whole volumes.

  2. oldtimer
    June 8, 2019

    At the end of the day it is the actions and results that count. On that basis her time at the Home Office resulted in failure to achieve her immigration objective (curiously defined as a net number) and her time as PM resulted in gaining a reputation for duplicity as she changed course in her failure to deliver Brexit.

    1. Duyfken
      June 8, 2019

      I seem to recall that one of her acts as Home Sec in 2010 and subsequently was to reduce the funding and numbers of the border force , this as part of the new government’s policy to cut costs.

      1. Timaction
        June 8, 2019

        ……….and 20,000 reduction in the police. Grooming gangs under politically correct nonsense, gang warfare and knife crime at unprecedented levels. Murder rates never seen before. Who was responsible? May.

      2. Ian wragg
        June 8, 2019

        And sell off the Patrol Boats.

  3. formula57
    June 8, 2019

    With due consideration that I refer to one who is your friend: –

    ” She has given a lot of energy and determination to the job of PM” – but badly misdirected;

    “and has a strong sense of public service and duty” – but a myopic vision of how to act in the public interest.

    I know of no-one who is not pleased to see her removal from office and I doubt history will have much creditable to say about her.

    1. eeyore
      June 8, 2019

      One of this country’s great gifts to the world is the art of changing leaders without vindictiveness or violence. Even now many nations have not mastered it. Mrs May’s record is indeed calamitous, but we should all join Sir John in wishing her well for the future.

      Although no longer Tory leader, there is speculation she plans to remain acting PM not only until her replacement is elected by the party but until he or she secures a majority in the Commons. That may not be quick or easy.

      We may even have Mrs May, neither in office nor in power but still in Downing Street, when the EU deadline runs out on October 31.

      1. rose
        June 8, 2019

        That is evidently what would suit the Cabinet Secretary and the Chief Negotiator.

        1. rose
          June 8, 2019

          It is true Heath was told to put a woman in the Cabinet but he then gave the order that it be discovered which was the best one.

          1. rose
            June 9, 2019

            This was intended for Jerry at 2.32.

          2. jerry
            June 9, 2019

            @rose; My comment related to 1975-1990, not any position held prior to becoming party leader. But funny you should mention Mrs T’s time at Education, and the small matter of school milk, when actually subsided milk was more likely being funded via MAFF…

  4. Pominoz
    June 8, 2019

    Sir John,

    Not a story of rampant success so far then, apart from length of time served.

    Some of us may consider that she has been around for much too long. Just hope the ‘acting’ period of the next few weeks does not allow her to have any more ‘good ideas’.

    1. Mark B
      June 8, 2019

      Well, apparently, she has one last scorched earth policy trick up her sleeve. It is to make the whole of the UK totally carbon neutral by 2050.

      The Mad Hatter lives.

  5. Nigl
    June 8, 2019

    Risk averse, duplicitous, very narrow in her thinking, non collegiate, untrusting, unyielding, mechanical, prepared to sacrifice people, not much to like really.

    And the worst part. Your MPs would have known this when they elected her.

    1. sm
      June 8, 2019

      Except that she was NOT elected, she was – so to speak – the last man standing.

  6. J Bush
    June 8, 2019

    I accept it is Westminster tradition to ‘sing the praises’ of the outgoing PM, no matter what a disaster their term of office has been.

    I beg to differ in your assessment of May’s capabilities and character. My doubts kicked in when she rammed through her snoopers charter she had been trying to get on the statute for ages. Then her spouting off about ‘Global Britain’! What the hell was that supposed to mean, given her abject failure to boost border control, reduce immigration and remove illegals? Then the real SJW in her kicked into overdrive, along with her mountains of deceptions and lies.

    I don’t recall that she ‘won’ the leadership, more case of the other candidate was subject to the usual dirty tricks campaign. A bit like Johnson has recently experienced.

    Finally, a lot of people are asking why after her disastrous term of office is she allowed to stay in place to wreak more damage?

  7. ColinD.
    June 8, 2019

    May’s disastrous decisions don’t stop with the Brexit fiasco. How about: HS2, Hinckley Point C, Heathrow runway 3 and Huawei?

  8. agricola
    June 8, 2019

    She blew it when she allowed an insight to her dishonesty at Chequers. This gave oxygen to the remain quislings in the parliamentry party and put her at odds with the Conservative Party in the country at large and 17.4 million Leave voters. She steamed on, the runaway train oblivious to all signals. She smashed into the buffers at the EU elections and on Thursday in Peterborough. As you point out, while trying to sound loyal, her achievements at the HO were next to zero. She went on as PM to bring her party to the point of disintegration, her loss of ministers in the process must be an all time record. She has been a three year disaster for the UK. When you consider that the ex MP for Peterborough lost her seat for lying about a traffic offence, what does it say for UK democracy to have May still in position after the stream of lies she has uttered in and out of Parliament. You could not make it up.

  9. agricola
    June 8, 2019

    She blew it when she allowed an insight to her dishonesty at Chequers. This gave oxygen to the remain quislings in the parliamentry party and put her at odds with the Conservative Party in the country at large and 17.4 million Leave voters. She steamed on, the runaway train oblivious to all signals. She smashed into the buffers at the EU elections and on Thursday in Peterborough. As you point out, while trying to sound loyal, her achievements at the HO were next to zero. She went on as PM to bring her party to the point of disintegration, her loss of ministers in the process must be an all time record. She has been a three year disaster for the UK. When you consider that the ex MP for Peterborough lost her seat for lying about a traffic offence, what does it say for UK democracy to have May still in position after the stream of lies she has uttered in and out of Parliament. You could not make it up….

  10. agricola
    June 8, 2019

    Captcha playing silly buggers yet again.

    1. matthu
      June 8, 2019

      It was worth repeating!

  11. matthu
    June 8, 2019

    Mrs May will be immortalized for her absolute inability to give a straight answer to almost any question she was ever asked.

    We already have computer generated readability scores which are able to rate a section prose according to the level of clarity and complexity of the writing. What we need is a new index able to rate political candidates for their willingness and ability to provide simple, straight answers to questions of the day.

    Anyone falling consistently below a defined threshold would be automatically disqualified from government office.

  12. Mike Stallard
    June 8, 2019

    She has holed herself up in Downing Street with a coterie of Civil Servants and SpAds who she feels safe with. There are now some 200 of them. Other Ministers have usually two (none has more than 3). This means that decisions (Dominic Raab, Davis Davis) are taken in No 10 without consultation and the Cabinet has become a school room with Teacher instructing the pupils. Mr Trump was quite right about Mrs May on that one!

    Sir John, we differ on what should happen, I am afraid. Ideally we should leave the EU, including the EU/EEA, but remain in the EEA on our own terms. That, I realise, is now impossible.
    But if and when we do finally just leave (October 31st?) I do hope that someone has taken up Mr Trump’s generous offer and that the people who insist on chlorinated chicken and privatising the NHS will not get their Luddite way.

    1. matthu
      June 8, 2019

      Most salad that you buy in a supermarket today has apparently been chlorinated.
      Do you eat salad?
      If you ever visited the US, would you specifically desist from eating chicken? Beef?

      1. Treacle
        June 10, 2019

        I am intrigued by all these people who think that other people should be prevented from buying chlorinated chicken. Do they also refuse to drink British tap water?

  13. Nigl
    June 8, 2019

    Duplicitous, untrusting, secretive, non collegiate, risk averse, mechanical, narrow thinking. Not much to like or admire really.

    And the worst thing is your MPs knew this when they voted for her but placed personal animus above the countries needs.

    They deserve what’s coming to them, we don’t.

    (Apologies if part duplicate struggling with captcha)

  14. Rhodas
    June 8, 2019

    The ignominy is palpable, that is her legacy and how she will be remembered.

  15. steadyeddie
    June 8, 2019

    As Mrs May’s successor will discover, she had an impossible task of keeping the Conservative party together while they face in two directions of leave and remain. She tried to achieve this with the withdrawal agreement but the ERG would not allow it. As soon as Mr Farage was given respectability it was a on a downward path, vis. the 2017 GE. If the party wish to self destruct, that is for them, but please do not take the country with you.

    1. mickc
      June 8, 2019

      There should have been no “two directions “. The result of the Referendum was clear…to Leave the EU.
      Regrettably many Tory MPs do not consider that such a clear democratic result applies. They seem not to understand that if democracy is treated with contempt by them it is perfectly reasonable that others do the same with regard to whatever laws they choose to create. Parliament has lost much authority and will lose it entirely if we do not leave the EU.
      Whilst MPs parrot the cry of “Parliamentary Sovereignty” they are happy to cede sovereignty to the EU…but not the British people.

  16. John Sheridan
    June 8, 2019

    “…Mrs May ceased co-operating with the large Leave group of Conservatives and adopted in secret what became the Chequers plan. ”

    This was the visible start of her wholesale betrayal of Brexit, which probably started when she moved Robbins from DExEU. Whatever else she may have achieved in her career will be forgotten. All that will be remembered is that Mrs May severely damaged the Conservative Party by going against the wishes of the country and her core voters.

    The jury is out on whether the Party will recovery from her time as PM.

  17. Jocelyne Perks
    June 8, 2019

    Her legacy?
    She has destroyed her ‘beloved’ party and damaged the country she ‘loves’. That’s all!!

  18. Dave Andrews
    June 8, 2019

    Can anyone explain why it is that the government, having a net migration target and the control over who comes in from non-EU countries, continues to allow so many to come in?
    Gross incompetence would seem to be the obvious answer, but I can’t believe it’s just that.

    1. matthu
      June 8, 2019

      Given that we have been legally prevented from controlling the numbers of immigants we allow in from the EU, trying to do so for immigrants from non EU countries would be racial discrimination, would it not?

  19. Alan Jutson
    June 8, 2019

    A person promoted beyond their talents, but managed to cover it up for years, and still rise through the ranks, similar in fact to many employed by the Civil service, and some who work in the NHS and Local Government.
    They only get found out when they become the boss, or when a good boss is brought in over their heads and starts asking serious questions.
    I do not doubt her sense of public duty, or indeed her hard work, but the duplicity and betrayal of her brexit team and the introduction of chequers agreement, put a spotlight on her ability and the way she operates, she simply blames others and then tells porkies.

    I well remember her telling the police not to cry wolf over rising crime and falling Police numbers !
    The writing was on the wall then.

    1. Alan Jutson
      June 8, 2019

      Should have added, that the failings of such people are usually covered up by those who are excellent team players and do have some talent, and its when they leave that the incompetent are exposed.

  20. Everhopeful
    June 8, 2019

    Unmitigated disaster and most distressing to watch for all those who had pinned their hopes on leaving the EU.
    All very badly managed.
    Leaves us all exposed to a Trotsky govt.
    Actually..JR is extremely forgiving in his summing up….

    1. Mitchel
      June 8, 2019

      The government,the real government that is, is already quite Trotskyist;you may however get something that is Stalinist in it’s place!

  21. Alan Jutson
    June 8, 2019

    Let us hope that as acting Prime Minister she cannot now go on a giant spending spree in trying to create a false legacy, as that really would be a crazy situation, and a further insult to our so called democracy.

  22. George Brooks
    June 8, 2019

    She has shown over the years that she is totally incapable of multi-tasking which can bring with it an inability to listen and her track record since 2010 demonstrates this very clearly.

    At the time of her appointment it was said that ”she could be a b—-y difficult woman” which masked these failures in her make up.

    There is another saying ”birds of a feather stay together” and two of her friends from university, Chris Grayling and Damion Green don’t have the greatest track record from the positions they have held in government.

    Watch out for the damage she might do in propping up her track record before she stands down as PM. For once No 11 seem to be on the alert

  23. Mark B
    June 8, 2019

    Good morning.

    Today is the first that of, Theresa May MP’s ‘long goodbye’. In fact, I suspect it will be so long that she will probably be here until the next GE. Let’s hope shall we ? 😉

    So she chose, in the end, not to listen to our kind host. Well that is parliamentary democracy – she was listening to the Remain majority. A Remain majority that stood on a Leave ticket. Hence why the Tory party is doing so badly and finally, you have realised that the current incumbent is now more a liability than an asset. So best get rid, sort of 😉

    The havoc and bad will your leader has caused, both here and abroad marks her out as the, Nasty PM. And I for one hope history remembers her as so.

  24. Woody
    June 8, 2019

    I started to realise her insipid nature and character after reading her manifesto for the 2017 GE. It was a milk sop of words with no insight or inspiration. That is a defining summary of her time in office .. words and no activity … made worse by her lies .. “we WILL leave on the 31 March” “no deal is better than a Bad Deal”. The worst PM ever.

  25. Brian Tomkinson
    June 8, 2019

    Mrs May’s legacy: duplicity, mendacity, failure and the destruction of the Conservative party.

    1. APL
      June 8, 2019

      Brian Tomkinson: “and the destruction of the Conservative party.”

      Maybe there is something to be said for her after all.

  26. MikeP
    June 8, 2019

    Having a target of *Net* Migration < 100.000 has been tantamount to saying “I don’t mind if we get 600,000 immigrants each year, so long as I can rely on half a million leaving as they can do better for their families elsewhere or can’t stand the place any more. Managed assimilation would be a better strategy than uncontrolled replacement.

    1. Iago
      June 8, 2019

      Very well said. “net migration” is a deception, a deceit, and I have always been disappointed that JR uses the term.

  27. Bryan Harris
    June 8, 2019

    I won’t be adding to the no doubt great number of eulogies for this PM.
    She was a total failure as far as I’m concerned, leaning so close to the EU, she typified everything that has gone wrong with the Tories in recent years. There was no ‘In it to change it’ from May – She pursued the EU line, especially on migration, following the tradition of Cameron – the great compromiser.

    I always wondered why Hague left the Cameron government so quickly – perhaps one day he will explain it, but one cannot help but suspect that by that time the Tories had already surrendered to the EU

  28. A.Sedgwick
    June 8, 2019

    From the time Mrs.May rose to prominence as Home Secretary my instinct was in tune with Ken Clarke’s later assessment. Her dealings and run down of police numbers, presumably not standing up to Osborne, are a serious example of her being wrong headed. Stupid shoes and the unbelievably counter productive “nasty party” remark are more.

    Her shadowy presence in the Referendum was not a good omen for a successful Brexit.

    Within a few weeks her confirming HS2 and Hinckley C were dumb decisions, followed by a whole stream more e.g. 2017 election, which showed her personality to the nation and it was not impressed.

    Anyone But Corbyn in 2017 would have won the election, then she would not have been ahead in the polls, which turned her head.

    Unfortunately for the country she did not accept her limitations, that most of us know deep down.

    In short she was never remotely PM material.

  29. Fred H
    June 8, 2019

    You take a kinder and more conciliatory view of her time in office. Most MPs and the electorate on all political sides think her time the worst display of contempt of Parliament and the people that they can remember. Indeed dislike, distrust and it has to be said – hate, is only rivalled by the activists for the party opposite you in the Hof C. A bloody difficult woman’s actions has caused so much damage that it might trigger a fatal blow to the Conservative party for 2 GEs. It will not be mending fences, but rebuilding them from the ground up. Good riddance Mrs May.

  30. Barbara Castle
    June 8, 2019

    A leader doesn’t need to have all the ideas, but they do need an ability to identify the fundamental problems and recognise those who offer the most appropriate resolution. I believe May did identify the issues, but she exercised flawed judgement when she surrounded herself with self-interested “experts” and lobbyists with their own agendas; indeed, the latter can be applied to much of the political class.

    The public have watched aghast as successive “we know best” Parliaments have introduced legislation that has systematically decimated our industries, public services, high streets, environment and lives, and allowed unrestricted “let’s do it because we can” developments (AI anyone?) like some huge social experiment. Throughout, “those who know best” tell us we must be tolerant and adapt to things fundmentally at odds with the psychological characteristics and behavioural traits of the human animal. The culmination of this folly is that we now feel cornered, and like all animals we are fighting for our patch of land.

    1. Dominic
      June 8, 2019

      Absolutely correct. A most insightful and well reasoned expression of what is happening today in this most damaged of nations

      ‘Experiment’ is the most accurate term to describe social policy as enacted by this most dysfunctional of PMs and this most damaged of Parliaments

      My father weeps at what he sees as the deliberate destruction by a leftist political class of morality and decency only to be replaced by a political construct

      The fog and confusion created by the left in both parties is a deliberate strategy with the fundamental aim of taking political control of the private person

      At its heart is the BBC that provides the propaganda channel for this form of politicisation

  31. Dominic
    June 8, 2019

    Dame Carolyn Fairbairn. A gong for betrayal. Welcome to the world of British politics under Theresa May where incitement to fear (Fairbairn’s project fear) is awarded a gong and IRA supporting Marxist (sympathisers?ed) are embraced as friends

    May’s presence is toxic and so damaging to our nation. There is nothing she will not capitulate to to achieve her aims. If that means surrendering our nation then that’s absolutely fine also

    I resent this article today. I like John Redwood a lot. He’s a decent politician but far too kind hearted in his praise of this grotesque PM

    1. L Jones
      June 8, 2019

      It must be hard to see someone one considers ‘a friend’ setting themselves up to be so condemned and hated by so many. Perhaps Sir John felt that he could write his friend’s eulogy, knowing that others here would fill in the gaps he’d have to leave.

      I think the cover of the present issue of ‘Private Eye’ says it all – the ”Theresa May Memorial Issue”.

      1. APL
        June 8, 2019

        ”Theresa May Memorial Issue”.

        I laughed when I saw that in the newsagents this morning.

    2. cosmic
      June 8, 2019

      Sir John is going along with the maxim, “Be kind to those on the way out”.

      May has been an unbelievably bad PM, a liar, a trickster, by turns a sniveling toady and a bully, generally incompetent and widely loathed.

      Possibly the kindest option would be to say nothing about her time in office.

  32. Newmania
    June 8, 2019

    The failure of negotiation from weakness was as foreseeable as the scuttle of rats from responsibility. That T May took the blame is a detail of history. Had John Redwood been sitting in her sport the same options would emerge. Submission to a much much larger neighbour, a future of ” Nothing to do with Brexit” disasters, or staying in the EU , The wish of the majority is to abandon this project and had the people not been offered fantasies and lies the whole nightmare would have remained in the heads of closet racists and fruitcakes ( to quote Mr Cameron) who conceived it .

    Reply On the contrary, if we had offered a Free Trade Agreement or just leaving I suspect they would have taken the FTA

    1. Dave Andrews
      June 8, 2019

      The turnout times the number of people voting for remain candidates in Peterborough amounted to less than 8% of the electorate. Hardly a majority wanting to abandon Brexit. No rather, the vast majority simply don’t care – either way.

    2. L Jones
      June 8, 2019

      Perhaps some time, Newmania (not today as it’s off subject) you would give us all a few pointers as to how you would have seen our golden future unfolding had we decided to remain with the EU. There are many people much more widely read and far better informed than you who believe that lashing ourselves even more tightly into this ‘nightmare’ that is the EU would bring down our country and our people in many ways. You don’t. Perhaps we can look forward to a positive spin from you, as you are obviously a great admirer of the EU overlords and their plans.

    3. Woody
      June 8, 2019

      I keep hearing this argument about how MUCH MUCH bigger the eu is relative to the uk. I still shudder with outrage from a discussion with a relative, who had close connections to european interests and is a drama queen, in which she talked about the uk, pinching her fingers together to represent how teeny weeny we are relative to the GREAT EU. We are the 6 / 7 th largest economy in the world …. we were the 4th largest when we were conned into joining the eu … thanks eu. 90% of future world demand will come from outside the HUGE eu by the even HUGER real world out there. Mr Redwoods response is exactly the tactic any rational sensible person would take when talking to the eurocrats, and nothing stops that approach applying even at this late date. The eu will agree to a FTA .. their business community will demand so.

      1. rose
        June 8, 2019

        And the Germans regard us as worth 19 other EU states.

        1. formula57
          June 8, 2019

          The Germans have always under-estimated us though, typically at great eventual cost to themselves.

    4. Denis Cooper
      June 8, 2019

      “Submission to a much much larger neighbour,”

      You mean like Napoleon said in 1803, as he prepared to invade:

      “Fifteen millions of people must give way to forty millions.”

      I expect if somebody like you had been in charge we would have done, but luckily we then had a government that was prepared to fight rather than grovel.

  33. Narrow Shoulders
    June 8, 2019

    That is a fairly damming summary Sir John.

    I do hope it is picked up in the mainstream and debated.

  34. Duyfken
    June 8, 2019

    JR, your measured eulogy is welcomed in that it gives opportunity for us to express our otherwise pent-up frustrations about a truly disastrous PM and her shallow government and scheming side-kicks.

  35. Caterpillar
    June 8, 2019

    On the plus side her Government has so far kept the nationally important HS2 project (though with the elevated cost of the OOC to Euston, London centric bit, and the elevated cost due to maintaining pretty views).

    Other negatives of May were (i) giving up stop&search and banning water cannon (early signals on soft on crime) and (ii) keeping Hammond as Chancellor (unless this indicates that other Conservative MPs are even worse).

  36. TheMariner
    June 8, 2019

    After her becoming PM and Tory leader I remember her first speech to the country outside number 10. This speech was what gave me my first doubts about Theresa May. To me she came across as a compassionate person who wanted to please everyone! I said to my wife “Oh oh, this isn’t going to work and will all end in tears, mark my words”. She came across as a Liberal Party type leader NOT a Tory and personally I thought that first speech wreaked of appeasement.
    Then came the GE. I thought her decision to go for it was sound as the Tories had such a massive lead in the opinion polls and labour had a disasterous almost unelectable leader in Marxist Corbyn, so how could she lose? Well talk about clutching defeat from the jaws of victory that is what Mrs May managed to do. Her performance was totally unacceptable in that election campaign, Corbyn and labour were there for the taking and any half decent leader would have had a field day even with the massive “leg up” Corbyn received from the BBC. For me Theresa May was finished as leader then and I wrote to Paul Maynard my local MP telling him as much but nothing was said or done, I didn’t even get a reply.
    What then went on to happen with her handling of Brexit to me was simply unbelievable. She made gaff after gaff, broke promise after promise and STILL the Tory Party Mp’s did nothing. She was simply a disaster no matter how you try to dress it up.
    After more emails to my MP I finally lost interest ou of shear frustration and like many others sought refuge in a camp where people were speaking my kind of language on Brexit, i.e leave the EU on WTO and tha was Nigel Farage and TBP. I voted for them in the Euros and I’m glad I did. Will I do the same at the next GE, maybe who knows, I’ll think carefully.
    Ideally I would rather stick with the Tories who I have always voted for but for me the choice of the next leader and how that leader performs especially in getting us out of the EU will be key. It must be a Brexiteer this time round and a strong one. They also must be a real Tory with proper conservative views, strong and bold, not appeasing but appealing and not some half hearted liberal.
    This is a really important time for the future of our country and for the Tories. Get this wrong and it WILL be disaster for the Tories and maybe the country unless the new kids on the block TBP save the day. Who knows

  37. ian
    June 8, 2019

    A debt of gratitude is own to Mrs T May for making sure there was a ref in the first place by her action at the home office over time and as PM for inventing the Brexit party and another party with the Brexit party now having the ability of being one of the biggest party ever, my hat goes off to her.

    Done more for democracy over time than most other MPs and PMs i can think of.

  38. cornishstu
    June 8, 2019

    My sentiments are that she has deliberately tried to sell us out / stitch us up, along with the majority of remain Mp’s who cannot accept the democratic wish of the electorate. She may have given a lot of energy and determination but unfortunatly it was in the wrong direction. Had she applied the same to getting us out without trying to pull the wool over our eyes in keeping us in in all but name we would have already left.

  39. lojolondon
    June 8, 2019

    Good analysis, John, but too polite, I fear. I would paraphrase – she achieved nothing in 3 years except the humiliation of the British people’s reputation for ability to get things done, and strengthening the Remainer impression that “Brexit is such a difficult thing that it may never happen”.

  40. miami.mode
    June 8, 2019

    Her accomplishments as Home Secretary were the easy bits and were often solved by legislation. She failed on the more difficult parts and this should have been an indication of how she would perform as PM which encompasses all sorts of difficult choices and requires political acumen.

  41. rose
    June 8, 2019

    I see her time in Downing St as divided into two clear and distinct phases, separated by the 2017 election. First there was Brexit Means Brexit, with Nick Timothy and David Jones, when all the votes were won and Brexit appeared to be going ahead, if too slowly for some of us; then, after the election, there was Brexit No Longer Means Brexit, with Olly Robbins and first of all Jeremy Heywood and then Mark Sedwill. What do you think changed, apart from the numbers in the Commons, to bring about this disastrous volte face? It is never mentioned and you don’t mention it either.

    1. sm
      June 8, 2019

      ‘What do you think changed?” – after the GE, Mrs May brought in Sir Mark Sedwill, an ardent Remainer, and gave him an unprecedented combination of senior positions: Head of the Civil Service, Cabinet Secretary and National Security Advisor. She also appointed an exceptionally ardent Remain ex-MP, Gavin Barwell, as her No 10 Chief of Staff.

      1. rose
        June 8, 2019

        You don’t explain why she did this. It was her choice to sack Timothy and Jones, and her choice to appoint Barwell and Robbins.

        1. Mark B
          June 10, 2019


          At a guess Theresa May MP was neither a Remainer or Leader. Her then principle advisors were Leavers and, after the disaster of the 2017 GE, I guess, she was given a choice. Either she ditched her Leave advisors and apoint Remainers or, they’d get rid of her and her career would be over.

          This is just a guess

  42. David Maples
    June 8, 2019

    Instead of charging us a for a single ticket out of the EU, she tried to get us to stump up the extra for a return ticket, because she always wanted to ‘come home’. At the risk of mixing my metaphors, she should be rowed under Traitors’ Gate, and confined in the Tower!

    Now let’s move on and make sure Boris, when he gets into No. 10, doesn’t go along with Barnier’s latest wheeze and try to renegotiate the WA, in exchange for a cosmetic tweak to the back stop. Also, let’s keep the judges from interfering with the PM’s right to use the Royal Prerogative to, if necessary, prorogue Parliament earlier than usual, and opening same later than is customary. These Remainers will not give up. We have to
    leave on Reformation Day, or both parties will be mortally wounded(not that I care about the Labour Party, of course).

  43. John Probert
    June 8, 2019

    May what a betrayal

  44. BR
    June 8, 2019

    Perhaps you thought you had to say something nice at the start – or at least ‘damning with faint praise’ but she was rubbish as Ho Sec. ‘Failing’ to control non-EU immigration is inexcusable since she can make the rules. She pandered to the big business lobby as do all modern Conservatives, at the expense of small businesses and other working people who have been hammered with endless red tape and double-taxation measures such as IR35.

    With the UK at high levels of employment, we should be seeing wages rise due to skills being rarer, but Big Business simply imports cheap labour from abroad and depresses wages, while having their tariffs paid by the UK taxpayer as SM contributions, making them lazy and ill inclined to look wider than the EU for trade.

    When I saw May give a speech to the police as Ho Sec, I said at the time that she looked like a rabbit in the headlights: scared, blinking, voice trembling. That is not someone you want to put in charge of negotiating treaties.

    And to elect a remainer to do a Leaver’s job… no wonder people are realising that Labour and the Conservatives are the BRINO parties.

    With 32% voting BXP, that’s the number in favour of WTO – how will you get a majority if anyone simply slaps a Brexit sticker on some version of the WA, even if they can get some changes?

    Your party needs to recognise that ‘delivering Brexit’ is no longer ‘spinnable’.

  45. Gareth Warren
    June 8, 2019

    I would sum Mrs May up as the triumph of presentation over content.

    As home secretary she made some splendid speeches, but failed to follow up with real action. Regarding Corbyn she was unable to counter his proposition of more socialism, here I suspect this because at heart she too thought the government needed a bigger role in our lives.

    For that reason she made the politically fatal mistake of backing the withdrawal agreement and refusing to take us out by no deal.

    She loves and serves our country in her own way and is clearly a talented administrator, but was promoted beyond her abilities. I wish her well in future, whoever takes over has a difficult job with the heavily remain focused parliament.

    But that is changing, the more fanatical pro-EU MPs have been deselected by their constituencies for breaking their manifesto’s. Others have joined the ChangeUK and amusingly found the real world not at all like the BBC main stream media viewpoint.

    The real threat to the conservative party is the brexit party, here I do wish again that the alternative vote system had been adopted, as I fear even a successful conservative party could see its vote split. I also hope we see less voter fraud with some level of ID checks made. Politics does look both exciting and interesting for the next two years.

  46. Denis Cooper
    June 8, 2019

    Well, I will refer back to November 7th 2018:

    “Whether or not it was a deliberate plan Theresa May and Olly Robbins have got us into a complete pickle over Brexit, but of course of the two it is Theresa May who is notionally in charge and who must therefore bear the greatest responsibility.

    To recall one of many letters I have sent to the Maidenhead Advertiser on this subject over the past year, one published on May 10 2018 under the heading:

    “Solution to Irish issue and customs union”

    “I was staggered to read this in a Sunday newspaper, referring to Theresa May’s preferred plan for a crazy “customs partnership” with the EU:

    “Mrs May’s No 10 Brexit adviser, Olly Robbins, has told her that the ‘partnership’ is the only idea which will allow the UK to cut new trade deals while avoiding the need for a hard border in Ireland …”

    “… Mrs May should get herself a new Brexit adviser who will not talk such nonsense …”.

    “… Here is a simple alternative idea, which unlike Mrs May’s preferred scheme would not require years for its complex implementation.”
    And at the end:

    “But of course that so-called “parallel marketability” scheme would not provide Theresa May with what she wants, a pretext to keep us the economic rule of the EU.”

    I believe this is the crux, that she paid too much attention to the likes of the CBI:

    “Meanwhile the woman from the CBI says that this is not a perfect deal but it would be far far worse to leave with no deal … ”

    “For the last two years, British industry’s focus has largely been on the UK government. The private sector, including the shipping industry, has taken to the airwaves to feed the media’s thirst for new Brexit opinion, and crammed into Whitehall meeting rooms to highlight threats – real or perceived – to their respective sectors.

    The Chequers deal is proof that the government has listened – it is as close to what we asked for as we were ever likely to get – and the Prime Minister has shown considerable fortitude in squaring the circles needed to deliver it. The rest of the government and all of Parliament now need to get behind it.”

  47. APL
    June 8, 2019

    JR: “Yesterday Mrs May’s tenure as Leader of the Conservative party ended, though she remains as acting leader and Prime Minister until her successor is appointed.”

    So, when she said she was resigning, and stood in front of Downing street ( the house of the Prime Minister ) to tearfully tell us so, she didn’t mean she was resigning as Prime Minister – what we all hoped but as leader of the third or fourth most important party in the country.

    I had hopes she’d be gone as Prime Minister too, another lie or promise not kept.

  48. Grahame Ash
    June 8, 2019

    What next from Mrs May? An auto-biography of her time at the Home Office and as PM?
    Her successes explained.

    Must get a copy and file it in the Fiction section of my library.

  49. Philip Brandon
    June 8, 2019

    Has she gone yet?

    1. Mark B
      June 10, 2019

      No ! She’s doing what I am going to call, a Merkel.

  50. Antoinetta III
    June 8, 2019

    I’m from across the pond in the US, so if some of my questions seem ignorant or silly, forgive me.

    As far as I know, the Referendum was a straight-up choice of Leave or Remain. Nothing in the Referendum said anything about any “deals” or “negotiations” being involved. So why wasn’t Britain formally out of the EU the moment the Referendum results were announced? Why is it necessary to create a “legal framework” to actually leave?

    This seems to be a problem with western electoral “democracy” in general. Nothing important can simply be agreed on and then implemented. In fact, it seems that if something is agreed on, it then cannot take place until a lot of hoops are jumped through, “enabling legislation” needs to be passed, or “legal frameworks” need to be created. All this, of course, creates the time and opportunity for those opposed to the action in question to organize themselves and to obstruct, subvert or undermine the proposed action. The undue amount of “process” involved in western governance seems to be one of its many weaknesses.

    If I recall correctly, in the run-up to the Referendum, May was supporting Remain. When Leave won at the polls, she should never have been allowed to become PM. She’s conflicted; she is supposed to lead the way out of the EU, while personally wanting to stay in. This always ends badly, someone tasked to do something they don’t believe in will have ample opportunities to undermine or subvert whatever it is they were tasked to do. It should be clear that anyone with any Remain tendencies should au priori be eliminated from consideration for May’s replacement.

    Finally, it seems that at the start, May was on the right path, but at Chequers there was a major turnaround. Did somebody “get” to her. Was she blackmailed or bribed in some way?

    Antoinetta III

    1. Mark B
      June 10, 2019


      Sir John gets a lot of posts, hence why you never got a response.

      The EU is a legal construct designed, over time, to replace the nation state. Countries join and are required treaty by treaty to surrender more of their national sovereignty. This is done without the full knowledge and consent of the people.

      The people of the UK voted to Leave the EU. Those in power thought that the people could be frightened into Remaining in EU but it did not work.

      Theresa May MP was for Remain but kept a low profile. I do not think she was knobbled or blackmailed, she just made the right Leave noises until her position was secured.

      Hope this helps.

  51. Andy
    June 8, 2019

    I’m sorry Sir John, but there is nothing good to say about this throughly dishonest and dishonourable woman. How else can one explain her behaviour, the Chequers Plan and much else. If I was being charitable I would say she was somehow ‘got at’ by the Remainiacs in her Cabinet and the Remainiac Civil Service. But to me that does not excuse her behaviour and her treatment of David Davis whom she sought to undermine from the very beginning.

    I would say her tenure has been a complete disaster and the harm she has wrought will not be easily undone, if that is even possible which I doubt. Her dishonourable behaviour, her inherent dishonesty, make her a thoroughly wicked woman who has no place in public life. We should have done with her.

  52. Iain Gill
    June 8, 2019

    Re “She did not, however, manage to control non EU migration as promised either” she did not even try. Indeed she happily entertained the Indian outsourcing movements leaders who make vast sums importing large numbers of Indian nationals on intra company transfer visas, subcontract them into other companies for far less than it would cost to hire a Brit, helped by big tax perks, and get many to move onto indefinite leave to remain and British passports they work here so long.

    I doubt she spoke to a single local who has seen this industry up close and personal who understands the massive abuse going on.

  53. Nickyroberts
    June 8, 2019

    Unfortunately I cannot wish Theresa May well because had her disastrous WA been passed she would have single handedly destroyed our independence and our future. For a Prime Minister to have behaved in this way is unforgivable and I do not understand your tolerant opinion of Theresa May which does not acknowledge her inexplicable behaviour.

  54. Richard Evans
    June 8, 2019

    Totally incompetent MAY was and is a puppet of the Establishment and the conservative cabal. She was shoe horned into the position of PM to serve them and she accomplished all they asked. I said from day one she would “sell us down the river” and this she has achieved. The people are irrelevant.
    In addition I have said MANY times the Establishment will not allow a BREXITEER PM so forget all this postulating about who will be the right candidate. What we need is a general election and CHANGE however it is surprising how the fickle people do not want change.They still voted conservative in Peterborough which by the way has a large Muslim community

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