Lord North is often held to be Britain’s worst ever prime minister because he was the one that lost America.
But I really think this claim does the current incumbent a terrible disservice. Lord North, after all, has been vindicated by history: Britain and America have thrived since their divorce. No one, though, is ever going to be able to view Theresa May kindly with hindsight, no matter how many aeons pass.
Theresa May is without question the worst prime minister in British history.
Sure there have been more insidiously evil ones (Tony Blair), more grotesquely overrated ones (Clement Atlee), more corrupt ones (Harold Wilson), more downright useless squishy ones (Ted Heath), more ineffectual ones (Dave).
No one, though, has been more perfect at doing the wrong thing every single time without fail than Theresa May. And no single person bears more responsibility for the excruciatingly rubbish Brexit strategy.
May was bad enough when she was merely Home Secretary.
But as Prime Minister she has set new personal career lows with her characteristic mix of stubbornness, high handedness and stupidity so abject that it quite takes the breath away.
Nowhere has this been more evident than in her disastrous mishandling of the Brexit negotiations. Throughout, her overriding priority appears to have been: give the European Union whatever it asks for; then, when it grumbles that it’s not enough, give it some more.
Today, for example, we learn that – blithely, needlessly, as if it were a minor detail that need not concern anyone – May has conceded to Spain the right to decide the future of Gibraltar.
Gibraltar has been a (fiercely loyal) British Overseas Territory since 1713. But to May, who has no sense of history, or tradition, or indeed Britishness, it’s just another dispensable commodity to be chucked away in order to help achieve her two end goals: delivering a Brexit as close to Remain as she can possibly get away with; clinging on to power.
Her achievement on the last front has been truly remarkable: by far the most extraordinary thing about her. Like a cockroach which has emerged dusty but unscathed from the basement of a building which has been first destroyed with a daisycutter bomb, then napalmed, then nuked, May’s survival skills have strayed far beyond the merely impressive into the realms of the frankly disturbing.
It’s why so many commentators are now reaching for the Terminator analogy. May has survived so many attempted coups – half-arsed ones, admittedly, but still… – that her political enemies have pretty much given up on the idea of assassinating her because they know that thanks to her devil’s luck they’re bound to be the ones who end up dangling from the piano wire while their target goes from strength to strength.
This may be why staunch Brexiteers like Michael Gove have taken the decision to work with her in the Cabinet, rather than against her outside like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg. They appear to have decided that there is something so inevitable about Theresa May’s triumph that they may as well make the best of a bad job.
Which, of course, is what the 17.4 million of us who voted Brexit find so maddeningly frustrating. With each day that passes we can all see more clearly than ever that Theresa May is presenting us with the Worst Deal in History. And that what’s more she’s getting so cocky about getting it through one way or another that the other day on the radio she refused three times to answer whether if she loses the forthcoming “meaningful vote” she’ll step down as Prime Minister. With all the determination (and about a fifth of the intellect) of a limpet you’ve tried unsuccessfully to kick off a rock, she’s going to cling on, come what may, for all eternity if we let her.
Why, we all ask, isn’t more being done to rid us of the greatest obstacle to British prosperity and sovereignty since the Second World War?
Why won’t those MPs do something?
Well my hunch is that they will. And I think the person we have most to thank for this is Theresa May.
Let’s remind ourselves, for example, why Theresa May’s Brexit proposition is being described as the Worst Deal in History.
Because it is, quite literally, the Worst Deal in History. It’s a Carthaginian Peace, imposed on Britain by the EU – only with the key difference that unlike its original historical antecedent Britain hasn’t been militarily defeated: it has allowed the enemy simply to crush, humiliate and annihilate its integrity and sovereignty gratis and without a shot fired in its own defence.
For more details see this devastating analysis by Martin Howe QC.
This draft agreement will not take us closer to an acceptable final deal with the EU. Instead, it locks us down by throwing away in advance our two strongest negotiation cards: EU budget payments of £39 billion and the future access to our market for EU goods.
At present, the EU treaties give us the right to withdraw on two years’ notice — a right we are currently exercising. But this new deal would lock us in with no right to leave at all, and destroy any benefits of the freedom of action which Brexit should give us. It would not let us forge our own trade policy with other parts of the world. It would not make our economy more competitive. It would not give us back control of our laws. This is not a bad deal. It is an atrocious deal.
In other words, it is not just bad. May simply couldn’t have negotiated a deal more deleterious to Britain’s interests even if she’d tried.
But the sheer awfulness of May, combined with the sheer awfulness of the deal she is trying to impose on Britain may ultimately, I believe, work to Brexit’s advantage.
A more subtle, less intransigent leader would have offered more concessions to the Brexiteers in order to win enough of them round to support her deal. As it is, when push comes to shove and her deal comes before parliament on December 10th or 11th, it’s simply not going to pass. May is simply too hated; her plan is just too useless.
These Terminators, you see: they’re pretty resilient but they’re not invincible. I can’t remember what it was that happened to the evil killer bot at the end of Terminator II. But whatever it was, it’s going to happen to May too. And the rejoicing will be unconfined.