Until the day before yesterday, my life has seen five Prime Ministers leave office. On Friday Theresa May became the sixth and I have never seen a Prime Minister leave in such a sorry state of disgrace; including John Major slinking off after the Tories’ extreme drubbing in 1997.
May leaves the country in a much worse state then when she came to office. Around 560,000 people use a food bank every year, the number of people sleeping rough has grown, the NHS is on its knees and in some parts the country the schools are so cash strapped that pupils have to bring their own toilet paper. May has done almost nothing with the enormous powers of state that the Prime Minister is invested with to improve people's lives.
Despite this disgraceful lack of action, the ruin that she has left Brexit in is even worse. Brexit has become a dumpster fire that has that has ultimately consumed her premiership, ended her political career and most likely tarred her name in the annals of history.
This is the point where I have to acknowledge that she was given a difficult job. David Cameron owes some blame for the mess that we’re in after calling a referendum, losing it and then fucking off. A 52% vote for Leave with no clear plan of what that meant was a difficult situation to inherit. However all Premierships face challenges. It is the measure of a Prime Minister as to how they rise to them.
Following a narrow vote for Leave, May could have bought the country and Parliament together around a soft Brexit. She could have reached out to the Labour Party early on to secure a sensible Brexit that would have passed the Commons. She could have been honest with the public about the compromises that were necessary to deliver Brexit. She didn’t.
Instead Theresa May saw an opportunity to use Brexit to destroy the Labour Party. By owning the process and trying to deliver a Tory Brexit, for which she could claim credit for, she planned to steal the support of social, small “c”, conservative Labour voting Leavers and lock Labour out of power. In failing to destroy the Labour Party she might have destroyed the Tories. The next Tory leader could well be their last. The world's oldest political party could split in two and this will be largely May's fault.
While I shed crocodile tears for the likely death of the Tory Party, there is still the wildfire of Brexit burning through British politics. Brexit is in a dire state. May's often utterance of "no deal is better than a bad deal" is partly responsible for the fact that the complete economic suicide that would be a No Deal Exit from the EU currently polls at an alarming 45%. Extremism has completely captured the Leave side of the Brexit debate. No compromise is brooked. Faith in politicians is at an all-time low. Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson are likely to do well in the EU elections. This is a shit show.
It is terrifying that for many supporters of Brexit, May's deal, which is a deal to deliver Brexit, is seen as at best no-Brexit or at worse treachery. Let that sink in. Brexit supporters feel that a deal which delivers Brexit is treachery. Some of the blame for this situation - which would be funny if it wasn't terrifying - must go to supporters of No Deal, the Boris Johnsons and Nigel Farages of this sorry world. However, much of the blame must land on May and her complete failure to unite the Leave supporters behind not only her Brexit, but any kind of negotiated Brexit. This situation is so utterly fucked that the only thing I can do is to try to think about it as little as possible to avoid a life spent cowering under my bed in a constant state of sheer terror.
May has made an utter mess of Brexit. Nothing commands a majority in the polls. We have become a country divided into three unreconcilable camps of No Brexit, No Deal and an orderly exit. Never mind uniting the country, the sunlit uplands of a slim majority getting their way and the rest having to lump it seem a long fucking way off. We’re stuck in a state of constant crisis and never-ending paralysis.
There is something deeply terrifying about the person whose main job it was to deliver Brexit, walking away having completely failed. I cannot see a way out of this situation other than having a People's Vote and hoping to god that Remain can find a winning narrative this time. That won't solve the problem of a lot of angry Brexit supporters, who are now a lot angrier following May's "efforts". Eventually we will have to have a reckoning with the fact that so many people are angry and alienated. Another thing May did nothing about.
The only nice thing I can think to say about May is that what comes next will likely be worse. This is just another way that we lower our expectations from politicians. Then they fail to meet our lowered expectations and everything gets worse. The prospect of Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister is just another thing that I’m trying really fucking hard to not have to think about. Maybe we'll be lucky and get Michael Gove as PM. At least he pretends to be a normal human being and not a cartoon version of an aspiring authoritarian.
So May has gone and no one will mourn the end of her political career. My Brexit box is well stocked, which means that I will stay alive long enough to see the complete collapse of the country into civil war. Watch this space for further updates on that. May's legacy is the terrible mess of Brexit that she leaves behind. Whoever comes next's legacy will be the fallout from that mess and it's likely to be much worse than what we have seen already.