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See all stories on this subject How much more of this suffering can Theresa May take?It was another dreadful week for the prime minister, who has actually now been forced to reject two cabinet ministers D uring the 2015 basic election project, Theresa May was holding an interview in a basement in Ramsgate, Kent, when the lights unexpectedly blew and the room was cast into darkness. Henry Macrory, the Conservative party’s previous head of press was with her, and keeps in mind the method May, then house secretary, reacted. “She just kept going,” he remembers. “Then she stated ‘Next question’ before a voice piped up from out of the blackness asking her to discuss some policy or other. If it had actually been David Cameron he would have just stated: ‘Come on all of you, let’s adjourn to a bar and talk there’. However because it was Theresa we just continued as if absolutely nothing had actually occurred.” On Thursday night May was pressing on as regular again after another horrible day in the current unremittingly awful week of her premiership. Hours after sacking a second cabinet minister– the global development secretary, Priti Patel, in the space of seven days– she headed, with a present and a card in hand, to the Stationers’ Hall in the City of London to commemorate Paul Dacre’s 25 years as editor of the Daily Mail. There was plainly no government crisis so grave as to make her strike that engagement from the journal. This weekend the future of her foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, is in growing doubt after yet another diplomatic mistake. Her closest ally, Damian Green, is under investigation by the cabinet secretary for presumably improper behaviour towards a female reporter and declares that pornography was found on his Commons computer system. He rejects both allegations emphatically. She is an extraordinarily resilient woman. Can she manage this? Yes she can, and probably forever May has no Commons majority, having actually blown it in June’s disastrous general election, as she aims to take hugely contentious Brexit legislation through parliament. The NHS is moving towards a dreadful winter season, not able to cope. Cabinet ministers seem to be lobbying openly for more money for their departments– huge injections of money for health and real estate– ahead of a “make or break” budget with half the cabinet desiring the chancellor who will provide it, Philip Hammond, to be sacked for promoting a soft Brexit. He has no money to give anyhow as the economy stutters. “Wherever you look, whether it is the future of Boris and Damian, Brexit, the budget plan, there is no obvious route out for her,” says one former cabinet coworker. Just how much more can May take? Macrory points out the Ramsgate power cut episode as an instructional tale which offer ideas about this prime minister’s durability. It shines a light, he suggests, on her doggedness in dark times, her focus, her severity of purpose. Others who have actually dealt with May bear this out. She might not be the most inspiring leader but she has an armoury of individual qualities and characteristics which they say make her strangely well matched to surviving the worst of political times, the most extreme durations of pressure. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the previous foreign and defence secretary, explains the current times as worse than the John Major years where he served in the cabinet “but not significantly so”. He states that while Might has shown herself a “poor” campaigner she is well geared up to combat on as Major provided for years. “I initially got to know her on the intelligence and security committee,” he says. She was always strong under pressure and handled her type-two diabetes with great guts. “She is an extremely durable female. Can she handle this? Yes she can, and probably forever.” While others have a hard time to see why she would wish to cause more on herself, Rifkind believes she will have no doubt that she can and needs to soldier on. A good variety of people in the Tory celebration who have seen May operating down the years have been struck by her ability to focus, her sense of duty, her evident lack of self-doubt. They likewise keep in mind an objection to contemplate the absurdities of politics. A previous party employee who helped her with media looks while in opposition recalls how she insulates herself by not reading papers, allowing only a few relied on advisers to tell her exactly what she has to know. “She is various to other politicians. She does not read the press. She keeps her focus extremely narrow, on her responsibility. In her personal relations with personnel she is cold, curt and formal and she has no capability to laugh at herself,” says the former aide. Her life, he remembers thinking, always revolves around the major organisation of politics and little else. “In the present context the majority of people would state ‘Sod this for a video game of soldiers’ and go and do something else that interest them. However from exactly what I saw, there is nothing else that she understands. So I believe she will simply kick on.” Baroness Anne Jenkin, the Tory peer who knows May well, sees that very same indomitability. Crisis management, she presumes, is a task that in some respects seems made for May. “Resilience and endurance are two of the most essential attributes in politics, and Theresa May has both in spades. Considering that June she has actually faced many unexpected challenges and has kept calm and continued. She has diligently continued with her constituency engagements and her other routines along with handling crisis after crisis and the biggest constitutional change in our lifetimes. The majority of us would have hidden under the duvet or loaded it in.” In her Maidenhead constituency, May is quite admired as a dutiful local MP. However recently there was a growing sense that her excellent qualities might not be enough. On the day May sacked Patel, Carol Dane, 80, a flower shop, was sweeping up around her flower stand in the centre of town. She states she is “tired of hearing all this going on in parliament” including that “it is a very odd world they live in”. Dane describes herself as “not naturally Conservative” but says she likes May and had actually made bouquets for her on several celebrations. However she includes: “Because she has actually become prime minister, I’m unsure. I believe Brexit is all excessive for her– it’s probably excessive for anybody. She appeared quite an effective, no-nonsense lady. However she seems to have actually lost her method. There’s no loyalty to her. The bad woman– at the end of the day she’s going to be the one going down in the history books as not doing an excellent task.” Drumming up support for his Indian food stand close by, David Rhys Cost, 64, appears with laughter at the reference of May’s name. “She had everything going for her, and she screwed it up big time,” he states. “Prior to the election we constantly thought of her as being an excellent local MP– she’s compassionate, she does great surgical treatments. As a local MP she was absolutely superior. But as a prime minister I believe she’s disappointing. I believe it’s her lack of judgment, awareness, nous.” Zaheer Saddique, 40, a Labour advocate, agrees: “Normally, I think she was an excellent house secretary, an extremely skilled political leader, but I think she’s a bit from her depth here. She was dealt a bad hand. I do pity her, but I indicate, there are things she might have done … She has actually discovered as an unskilled leader.” Back at Westminster, no Tory doubts May’s toughness and resolve. Those who know her but who do not necessarily believe she readies at being prime minister believe that she can, possibly, hard it out to end of this parliament since of who she is. They state she will view each crisis as another to conquer in the name of duty. But May has plenty of detractors too– those she handled brusquely or dismissively when a minister, and those she picked not to choose on entering Downing Street. A Lot Of Tory MPs and cabinet ministers are still raving about the election, and lots of question her judgment. The political difficulties and party management issues that lie on the near horizon are genuinely difficult. One former cabinet colleague observes: “She is extremely susceptible. The party is aghast at what has gone on. She is brave however her judgment is terrible. Why did she not simply sack Priti Patel by phone rather than have the circus of her returning from Africa to be informed, with a whole day of the media following Priti’s flight back minute by minute? The budget plan and European Council in December (when a choice will be made on whether talks can progress on to a post-Brexit trade offer) now end up being much more crucial for her, however there is not much sign that either will turn out well.” Brexit is a toxin in the Tory celebration that can not be drained pipes. May clearly thinks there is absolutely nothing for it but to institutionalise the split in the party in between hard and soft Brexiters at every turn by selecting equal numbers from each side to her cabinet to produce balance between competing factions. In personnel terms, May has little or no space for manoeuvre. Recently some in the whips’ workplace were warning her against a vibrant, sweeping reshuffle to inject new members and clean out the stables since she would create a lot of opponents amongst the sacked and disappointed and therefore put her Commons majority– which counts on the DUP– in even graver danger as crucial Brexit votes method. She can not yet dismiss Johnson due to the fact that she is too weak, and Brexit hell would break out if she did– but she will likely have to if the Iranians increase the sentence on the sent to prison London mom Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, whom he incorrectly said remained in that nation training journalists. If Green needs to go, her defender-in-chief and the minister who chairs a lot of cabinet committees will no longer be at her side, ready her on. Crucially, the future of 2 more of her most senior cabinet ministers is beyond her control. “Events could consume her, however identified she is simply to till on,” says another former minister. Simply as there are many Tories who believe she has the strength to survive, lots of likewise think that the sheer accumulation of problems could cause a tipping point. For all her strength, Might has sometimes let the mask slip. She is not inhuman, and feels discomfort and pressure. Another former press assistant remembers how she looked when she was party chairman in 2003 on the day Iain Duncan Smith gave up as leader. “It is the only time I have seen it, but she looked entirely troubled and damaged. She appeared like she believed she could not survive as chairman which her political career was over.” She appeared just as forlorn at her Maidenhead count in June when the appalling election results came, and it was clear that the biggest gamble she has actually ever taken as a political leader had actually backfired. She picked herself up afterwards to continue. But how many more blows upon the bruise of that messed up election can be withstood by this most devoted and most beleaguered of prime ministers?

Greg

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