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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Don’t be surprised if you don’t see much more of Theresa May this election – she’s a vote loser

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Theresa May staring into the distance
Theresa May has had a woeful campaign by all accounts CREDIT: CHRISTOPER FURLONG/GETTY IMAGES

It wasn’t meant to be like this. A snap election, the timing of which and the style of which only the Conservative Party knew, started off with predictions of a historical landslide.

But now “strong and stable” seems like it was a very long time ago. Even the presidential style of “Theresa’s team”, with little mention of the Conservative Party, has disappeared from view. The truth is that the Conservative Party’s main asset has now become a liability. Theresa is bombing with the electorate.

What is clear is that the more people see of Mrs May the less they like her. I said from the start that I doubted her sincerity, that she was prone to shifting positions and that it would be difficult for a Remainer leading a Cabinet of some very strong Remainers to carry off the Brexit election without some friction.

Perhaps we’ve been given a clue in the recent Budget, where within a few days the National Insurance rises for the self-employed were abandoned. But even more astonishing than that, for the first time that anyone can remember, a manifesto pledge on social care was changed even before we reached the election.

In so many ways Mrs May is a weathervane and not a sign post. At the moment I find it very difficult to really know what domestic policies she really believes in. While I do applaud the broadening of grammar school access, on so many other things she appears to support the big state, interventionism and the continuance of a corporate culture at the expense of free market entrepreneurship. The Tory manifesto has been a disaster.

It was on Brexit that she began the election and in a direct pitch to Ukip voters said she would deliver a proper British Brexit and that the alternative was the coalition of chaos under Corbyn.

I still believe that Brexit is her strongest card

Initially it worked. Within 48 hours of the election being called 50 per cent of those who voted for Ukip in 2015 said they would support her. And there was much to comfort them. Indeed, when she says she believes in Britain she is repeating the Ukip manifesto slogan of two years ago.

Yet when Jeremy Paxman interviews her and asks as a Remainer does she now believe in Brexit, she can’t answer. Indeed he asked her several times and she said that she is carrying out the will of the British people. I suppose to her credit she didn’t tell a lie and say that she believed in it.

May and Paxman looking glum in the studio
Theresa May under-performed when interviewed by Jeremy Paxman CREDIT: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

But as voters see her repeated u-turns on other policies they are beginning to ask: “How can you lead the country through a tough set of negotiations if you don’t really believe in what you’re doing?”

It is also rather odd that the Home Secretary that wanted the remove the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights now poses as a Brexit Prime Minister in favour of us staying a part of it. Yet another u-turn.

Too much more of Mrs May and it could be a hung Parliament

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