It has been just under four weeks since the UK voted to leave the EU.
Theresa May has been our PM for one week.
She has done quite a lot of housecleaning in that time with many new appointments to the Cabinet, making it her own, and has created a department for Brexit.
It is unfortunate that the Nice attack took away our initial enjoyment of May’s premiership. I have much to write on her appointment and the lady herself.
For now, a few brief observations follow.
The Conservative Party — best for women
The Conservative Party is the best political party for women in Britain.
Within 26 years, they have given us two female Prime Ministers, redoubtable women both.
By contrast, the right-on, progressive Labour Party has never had a female leader.
Around the time May was entering Downing Street last week, Angela Eagle — a contender for Labour leadership — said that it was high time they had a woman at the top. What Ms Eagle misses is that the Conservatives chose Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May not because of their gender but because of their competence.
I remember watching Andrew Neil’s Sunday Politics (BBC) in 2015 prior to the general election. Several Labour women MPs told Neil week after week that the Conservatives should have more women in Cabinet.
Ho hum. Which party has two female Prime Ministers? The Conservative Party. Which party just happened to have an all-women shortlist for party leadership with Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom just ten days ago? The Conservative Party.
First PMQs an absolute blinder
On Wednesday, July 20, Theresa May held her first Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.
She played an absolute blinder; she was confident, competent and concise. She answered every question with historical data and/or departmental updates. She took questions on housing, Brexit, ‘honour’ killings and the NHS, to mention a few.
Afterwards, I watched Daily Politics (BBC2) with Jo Coburn and her panel, most of whom, like Coburn herself, are very much left-of-centre. All said that May did very well indeed. Veteran reporter John Pienaar said she was much better than Margaret Thatcher in her early days of PMQs.
May will be travelling to Berlin on July 20 to meet with Angela Merkel over a working dinner. (I will have an update in a subsequent post.)
Brexit is likely to dominate the dinner discussions. Terrorism and the recent attempted Turkish coup are also probable topics.
This is an historic occasion, as both Britain and Germany have female leaders at the same time.
The two seem similar in several respects: both their fathers were clergymen, neither has children, both have a penchant for improving society and they have strong personalities.
Expect mutual respect and honest discussions. It will be interesting to see if, once she meets May, Merkel is willing to engage in some sort of negotiations prior to our invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Rome.
May will be meeting with France’s François Hollande on July 21. Calais and terrorism are sure to be on the agenda along with Brexit.
On July 19, May held her first Cabinet meeting.
She reiterated her commitment to Brexit and will personally oversee that new department as well as those for the economy and social reform.
May has wisely appointed three Leavers to key positions involving Britain’s future outside the EU. Longtime MP David Davis is in charge of the Brexit unit as the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. Boris Johnson, MP and former two-term Mayor of London, is Secretary of State for Foreign and International Affairs. Liam Fox is the Secretary of State for International Trade.
Keeping a close eye on Brexit, the economy and social reform ties together May’s overall agenda for her administration:
we will not allow the country to be defined by Brexit; but instead build the education, skills, and social mobility to allow everyone to prosper from the opportunities of leaving the EU.
I hope she continues to make progress in these areas. I’m beginning to like her a lot.