What a week it has been for Theresa May. Intense Brexit negotiations culminating in a deal that was accepted by all the other member states in Brussels. She will have to present it to parliament in Westminster and hopefully, her deal will go through.
I say hopefully for her, but also for the rest of us as Brexit has filled so many column inches, debates, new government departments and special advisers that we want to get back to not bloody mentioning it ever again if we can. For hardened Brexiteers, it seems they are holding out for some kind imaginary Brexit in the Neverneverland of the political landscape – and May has spent the last few weeks convincing them that this is best they can hope for.
It is amazing to think that May is only one person. She has to face probably the most political uphill upheaval and utter chaotic mess that few political figures have had to face.
Recent reports of her husband Philip making her beans on toast, served with a stiff glass of whiskey in the flat at Number 10, when she arrived in from Prince Charles 70th celebrations, apparently to kick off her (rather stylish) heels and try and grab a few hours in the privacy of her marriage, got me thinking – how she does it.
What must that be like? Having to do the impossible yet still get a wash on, have a meal with her husband and shoot the breeze and chat about what office politics is going on for him? Maybe take time to call her friends, perhaps have a look at I’m a Celebrity on twitter? Take time to read a favourite novel, book a hair appointment, maybe a check up with the doctor? Or perhaps she has staff to do this, who knows.
Could she ever, say, have a few more glasses of wine than she should on an ordinary Thursday night, and pull a sicky the next day?
We can forget that there is a woman behind the political face. A 62 year old married woman, presumably with some of the same kinds of concerns, vulnerabilities and mindsets we all face. Am I doing a good job? What if I am not spending enough time with family, friends, etc? Apparently Philip has taken to turning off the TV in his office as couldn’t take all the criticism towards her. Very sweet!
Yet brings it home that these people are just people and can feel the sting of criticism hard to take like the rest of us.
I wasn’t aware of May when she took over from David Cameron. Yet around this time she garnered support and grabbed headlines for the rather clunky assumption by her Tory party leader opponent at the time – Andrea Leadsom – that May wouldn’t have the same leadership qualities as she wasn’t a mother. She began her leadership in a slightly subservient manner, only there to carry out Cameron’s bidding, trying to save face and work through some kind of deal, trying to make sense of the burning building and utter mess that is Brexit. She almost daily uttered the phrase that her party would be ‘strong and stable.’ It seemed almost the opposite – she looked anything but.
Yet in the last few weeks she has impressed me. A slew of Brexit secretaries have jumped ship, many Remainers believed at one point that the only option was a repeat referendum, yet so far the force of May has prevailed. She has managed to pull together something that is viable yet means it is actually a real kind of Brexit – and with the Northern Ireland position made workable.
She is what my mother might call a trooper! She has been in the trenches for the last two and half years or so since the Brexit vote. She has managed to hold it together. One gets the distinct impression that Boris, Farage, Rees-Mogg and Raab would have happily thrown petrol at the fire, pyromaniacing their way through Britain’s relationship with the EU, throwing their toys out of the pram, the political equivalent of firing their Weetabix across the room.
Tony Blair (redeeming himself post Iraq unmentionables) commented that the intricacies of the relationship with Britain’s 45 year old relationship with the EU has such vast ties to unthread, it seems impossible. And people who think it is simple are being naive. Churchill once said If you’re going through hell, keep going – never more apt that watching Ms. May tough it out.
Whatever way her parliament vote on her deal shall be seen. Yet I say, whatever happens, May the force be with you Theresa.