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Sat 25 May 2019
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All prime ministers obsess about their place in history. As the endgame nears – how will Theresa May be remembered? The long term forecast isn’t good.

Watching Theresa May trying to make Brexit happen is like watching a monkey juggling gravy; nobody understands the point of it – but the outcome is increasingly obvious.

John Curtice’s NatCen poll published this week, reveals a growing unease in the country. Asked how well they think the government is handling our departure from the EU – just 7% of respondents answer “fairly well” while a whopping 81% say “badly”. Expectations that Britain will eventually get a good deal from the EU have plummeted from 33% in February 2017 to just 6% in February 2019.

The word disaster doesn’t come close to describing it.

By any measure she must currently rank as the worst prime minister of possibly the entire post-war period

As the endgame nears – what on earth is the prime minister thinking? Well – about how she will go down in history of course.

Sooner or later all PMs fixate on their place in time. It’s an inexorable part of the job. Any occupant of Downing Street sits in an uninterrupted line from Walpole and while the recollection of who occupied other ministerial roles may fade, prime ministers – and what they achieved – are generally remembered – for good or bad. As great events unfold – the politician at the helm always has one eye on the write up.

Tony Blair allegedly went to war with Iraq because he was “obsessed with his legacy” and is now purportedly anxious that he will chiefly be remembered for that very disaster.

Likewise, David Cameron’s limited achievements in office now seem destined to be wholly overshadowed by the one catastrophic act of calling the EU referendum.

She has appeased the whims of the Europhobic lunatics and let the country got to the dogs.

In some cases the passage of years is forgiving.  During his tenure in Downing Street John Major was viewed as a figure of derision, whose contributions to policy whether the cones hotline or the absurd back to basics campaign were largely mocked. Now Major is viewed by many as an elder statesman – whose administration was torn apart by the same “bastards” who are now driving the country off a cliff.

Wilson, Heath and even Thatcher have benefited from the hindsight of years – much as many of us might hate to admit it.

So what of Theresa May?

It is perhaps too early to say – but the long term forecast isn’t good. In her two and a half years in office she has accomplished nothing meaningful. She has been an ineffectual, obstinate and reactive politician who followed the furrows of a course set for her.

Watching Theresa May trying to make Brexit happen is like watching a monkey juggling gravy.

She has blundered on – not led. Foolishly triggering Article 50 prematurely to placate the hard Brexiters, she has since failed to come up with a deal that would please the very people she sought to appease. She has failed to unite her party. She has failed to unite the country. She has failed to take Brexit off the centre stage and she has failed at Brexit itself.

As the Article 50 fuse she so imprudently lit fizzes to its end – she has come to realise that the one shot she has at posterity – is to get her wretched deal through and fulfil the meaningless undertaking that “Brexit meant Brexit”. That empty epithet will now be her political epitaph.

In some quarters May has gained sympathy for having to handle this thankless political task – but it is entirely unwarranted. David Cameron stupidly and ill-advisedly caused the mess – but May has had opportunity after opportunity to put a halt to it. Instead of being straight with the public – she has appeased the whims of the Europhobic lunatics and let the country got to the dogs.

As such, by any measure she must currently rank as the worst prime minister of the 21st century and possibly the entire post-war period. With her political demise looming – May can only hope that whoever takes over does an even worse job.  God help us all.

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