Should we feel sorry for Mrs Maybe as her premiership dribbles to an inglorious end? No thanks, I’d say, although the Queen is reported to be sympathetic.
According to the Daily Mail writer Sebastian Shakespeare, the Queen said goodbye to Theresa May, her 13th prime minister, this week with “a poignant tete-a-tete at Buckingham Palace”. Shakespeare was tipped off by a courier, which is more than most of us can say.
His report observes: “Insiders say the Queen has bonded with vicar’s daughter Mrs May over their shared Christian faith and frugal values. ‘The Queen really warmed to Mrs May’s quiet understatedness,’ an insider tells me. ‘It will be fascinating to see how she reacts to the next PM’.”
Were those the same frugal values that prompted Mrs Maybe to splash out a reported £995 on a pair of brown leather trousers? She wore the trousers when being interviewed by the Sunday Times in 2016.
Asked to comment on such extravagance, former education secretary Nicky Morgan told the Times she had never spent so much on anything other than her wedding dress. Morgan promptly found herself “disinvited” to a meeting to Downing Street to discuss Brexit (every cloud and all that).
The Queen’s liking for Tupperware was reported long ago, but it is possible to overdo the frugality of a wealthy woman who lives in palaces. As it is possible to exaggerate the frugality of a prime minister with a millionaire husband and a liking for expensive, if somewhat eccentric, clothes.
I don’t know much about women’s clothes, but Theresa May always looks to me like a nerd trying too hard to show she’s got style. Or a vicar’s daughter trying too hard not to be a vicar’s daughter.
As for their shared Christianity, that is a bond for sure, but again it is hard to see much evidence of faith in the way Mrs May conducted herself. In an almost-there speech last Wednesday, she condemned the “absolutism” of politicians such as Boris Johnson (whom she didn’t name) and had another go at the folly of fellow Conservatives who pursued ideological purity at any price.
In short, she regurgitated her old arguments about Brexit, saying that she was right all along. And she may well be proved right, but for now we are in fantasy interregnum land, where anything goes – and Boris Johnson can appear at a rally waving an Isle of Man kipper wrapped in plastic. His aim was to disparage the EU, yet he’d muddled his facts as always, forgetting that the Isle of Man isn’t in the EU and it was a UK rule anyway.
Anyway, there will be no tears on this ledge when Theresa May leaves. The best to be said of her is that she hasn’t been as truly dreadful as David Cameron, who landed us in this Brexit mess, then departed whistling.
But she is gilding the lily here, rather than wearing it for a change, when she says this absolutism is a belief that “if you simply assert your view loud enough and long enough you will get your way in the end”. Exactly how she conducted herself all the way along, consulting no one over her Brexit deal, then flogging a deal no one wanted until it died at her feet (spoiler alert: Johnson may end up having to kiss that dead horse back into life).
But Mrs May’s biggest sin of absolutism was the hostile environment over immigration, a policy that brought the Windrush scandal to a head, a policy that saw fully integrated migrants who have lived here for decades suddenly treated as unwanted guests who were shown the door (or the airport immigration holding area).
That was Theresa May’s truest disgrace, and she should be reminded of that every time she tries to spit-polish her legacy.
Bye-bye, Theresa, you were truly terrible and hopeless, but history – and all of us in the cheap seats – may look back more fondly once we’ve suffered endless self-serving machinations from the kipper-waver in chief.