Theresa May is the woman no one expected or particularly wanted to be Prime Minister. May is the uneasy compromise between the Tories personified into a “leader”, who through the willingness on both sides for this uneasy compromise to remain in place, has survived some pretty awful scandals that would be sure to end another PM’s career. And following an pretty turbulent and weak 18 months or so for Theresa May, she may have actually just looked like a Prime Minister for the first time in the escalation between Britain and Russia.
Whilst pages, column inches and social media are ripe with comment, predictions and outrage at the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal earlier this month in Salisbury. Therefore, I won’t join in the multitude of those comments and write about something a bit less obvious – Theresa May and her appearance through all of this. I think it’s fair to say, I’m a fairly big critic of Theresa May. Despite some initial hopes of ‘well at least it’s not another Old Etonian’, she has proved to be one of the worst Prime Ministers I have experienced or heard about (yes, granted I’m not actually that old and therefore have only known 5 PMs in my lifetime).
She somehow survived the awful 2017 general election campaign and resulting ‘underwhelming’ (I speak from her perspective here) result that followed without a single knife in her back from her own party. She survived a rejuvenated and strengthened Corbyn led Labour opposition in those initial weeks after the election. She survived the awful handling and downright scandalous behaviour surrounding the Grenfell Tower fire. She survived losing her closest aid due to some pretty scandalous allegations as well as appearing as a joke in public due to her lack of control over the Cabinet (of course I’m referring to Boris Johnson and Priti Patel here). May has proven to be weirdly resilient in remaining in post despite going through numerous potentially career ending events.
So, it cannot be too much of a stretch to have expected Theresa May to make a complete hash job of dealing with Russia following the poisoning earlier this month. In fact, I would have predicted this would be another potentially career ending event for her. However, I have to unfortunately admit that May has appeared somewhat competent in her dealing of Russia and their alleged actions. I’d even go as far as to say that this is the first moment Theresa May has actually looked like a Prime Minister and leader of the biggest party in the House of Commons. She’s handled Russia with the right amount of force, yet not going too far in alienating our Allies and finding ourselves isolated in a possible war with Russia. Dare I say, we actually look to be in a pretty strong position with the backing of the EU, NATO and the USA here. Time will tell whether this unexpected show of some competency will actually continue. Despite this show of strength, May still has the potential to completely mess this up. Let’s not forget how Neville Chamberlain weakly compromised with Germany only to then find ourselves at war with them. Let’s pray things do not descend to such levels, and I highly doubt they will in spite of the media stirring up tension, but if we do end up in a WW2 style situation, I can certainly see history repeating itself with regards to the sitting PM at such a crucial moment.