Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The right woman got the job

Neither Theresa May nor Andrea Leadsom were entirely right for the job of Prime Minister but of the two it had to be May. 

Leadsom it turns out was a bit of shell, a person of no substance. One could imagine that such career success she has had has been down to her now faded looks; she is the sort of woman one hires to decorate the office, but not the sort entrusted with anything serious. Sometimes a job title doesn't tell you whether a person is doing the work or just filling the suit, and Leadsom it seems can handle a sharp suit.

Her first big mistake was giving an assurance that all EU citizens in the UK would be allowed to remain; two problems with this: first, we must have reciprocal assurances from other countries for our own citizens abroad before we agree that, and second, some of the gains of Brexit cannot be achieved unless we rid ourselves of a significant tranche of immigrants. We have five million un- or under-employed citizens and freeing up jobs for them will be a big win from leaving the EU. It will convert them from benefit recipients to taxpaying workers; everyone wins (except the displaced migrants.)

Her second mistake was to walk into a trap carefully laid by the May team. Theresa May's advisers figured out early on that Leadsom was baby bonkers: they probably got the hint when Leadsom entitled her leadership hustings speech "Brussels, Bankers and Babies" and then focused rather a lot on the babies including advice on how to massage their brains. May dutifully gave an interview in which she regretted her childlessness. Leadsom blundered straight into the minefield and claimed May was unsuitable for leadership because she did not have children. The May side then replied with synthetic outrage which dominated the headlines for a day or so. Leadsom compounded her error by claiming she hadn't said what was reported, but the tape proved she had. 

So Leadsom fell by the wayside and we have May. The manner of her ascension proves that she has the "right stuff" to represent us in the Brexit talks and anecdotal accounts indicate she is a tough negotiator. The only problem is - she is not a man. She is not going to be taking Jean-Claude Druncker to Spearmint Rhino and extracting concessions from him while he stuffs angel dollars down a cleavage. All her negotiating is going to be done the hard way, around the conference table. But apparently she is good at that.

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