Former foreign secretary of the Conservative Party Liz Truss was appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on 6 September 2022 after filling the vacancy of former leader Boris Johnson. And while Truss would go on to resign from her post as Prime Minister of the UK after just 44 days in office, historically, Truss would be the country’s third female leader ever since the UK became a democracy in 1832.
The United Kingdom’s first female Prime Minister was of course the formidable Margaret Thatcher, a woman who in doubt left her mark as Britain’s most important politician of the post-war era. But while the historical accolades of the first female Prime Minister are forever cemented, and the short reign of Liz Truss would be a huge talking point (the shortest-serving Prime Minister in British history) the UK’s second female Prime Minister and her accolades (or lack thereof) often gets overlooked.
Theresa May, the UK’s second female Prime Minister was not on many Brexiters’ wish lists when it was first announced that she would become the leader of the Conservative Party in 2016 after then Prime Minister David Cameron snuck out the backdoor and faded into obscurity after the Brexit referendum. But as many Brexiters would have it, they wanted Mrs May to do well, and desperately hoped that the UK, British democracy and most importantly, for Brexit to prosper and achieve its full potential. However, things didn’t exactly work out as they had hoped.
Theresa May was never going to be the next Margret Thatcher, and maybe it was unrealistic to expect another reincarnation of the Iron Lady, but the British public wanted leadership, a leader who believed in the 17.4 million who voted in the single biggest political turnout the country had ever seen.
But instead of a substitute for iron, such as metal, steel or even brick, rather, the British public got plastic, which as we all know, is particularly damaging to the sustainability of the environment. Mrs May was uncharismatic and lacked the charm that could inspire enthusiasm in others. But yet despite her shortcomings, could the former Home Secretary, whose only one daring moment in life involved running through fields of wheat as a child have the conviction to set disgruntled Brexiters free from the European Union globalist clutches?
Well, the proof was in the politics, and while the new Prime Minister had voted to remain in the EU and was certainly no Brexiter, she definitely seemed to take her new-found job role seriously in delivering on the results of Brexit. She signed article 50, the first initial steps in making the official declaration that the UK would be leaving the confines of the European Union, and told the British public week after week in every Prime Minister's Question Time that this ‘bloody difficult’ woman would get the UK out of the EU, with or without a deal. So far so good, or so it seemed.
What followed was a catastrophic whirlwind of disastrous deals with the European Union that would have kept the fifth largest economy in the world in a bodiless state of limbo, with then President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker poking the UK with his E.U-regulated electric cattle prod as Mrs May sheepishly grovelled back to Brussels week after week with her tail between her legs.
It took 3 failed attempts at passing a Brexit deal, a disastrous campaign during a catastrophic snap election in June of 2017 against socialist comrade Jeremy Corbyn and a Conservative Party cabinet dwindling in numbers to finally get Mrs May to hand in her p45 only after 3 years and 11 days in the job, becoming the fifth shortest serving UK Prime Minister in the process.
Critics argue that it was during the hasty snap election in 2017 that Mrs May’s weaknesses were revealed. From her reluctance to meet ordinary members of the public during the campaign to facing accusations of being ‘robotic’ while repeating her monotonous campaign slogan of being ‘Strong and stable’ which fast became an internet meme dubbing her the "Maybot", an automotive drone with no character or magnetism.
When the results came in after that catastrophic snap election, the Conservatives had lost their majority and May’s political authority had all but vanished, forcing her to form an agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to have its support in key votes.
However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the former Prime Minister, as, during the eventful snap election, Mrs May unveiled her new softer cropped bob haircut to the delight of her few admirers and the ridicule of her many detractors.
One of those critical of the Prime Minister’s new look was Labour MP Emily Thornberry, who argued that the new hairstyle was simply a distraction ploy to get voters to rush to the polling station and vote for a new hairstyle as opposed to voting for policies.
Making the controversial comments on live British TV, Thornberry said: 'We will win this, if we win it, on the basis of our policies and the fact that we have been able to get over our message on the doorstep showing people that it does not need to be this way.
"There is no alternative vision that the Tories are offering. It is not good enough for people to simply say 'I like Theresa May's hair or 'I like that shade of blue" the Labour MP added.
The former British Prime Minster, who had posed for American Vogue earlier that year was never afraid to express her flair for style and fashion, often seen in her trademark leopard print kitten heels, which many argued were a substitute for her apparent lack of redeeming qualities and personality.
"I like clothes and I like shoes. One of the challenges for women in the workplace is to be ourselves, and I say you can be clever and like clothes. You can have a career and like clothes," she said when she spoke at the Women in the World Summit in 2016.
Theresa May served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 13 July 2016 and resigned on 7 June 2019. In an emotional statement outside Downing Street, she said she had done her best to deliver Brexit and it was a matter of "deep regret" that she had been unable to do so.
Much can be said about her poor handling of the Brexit negotiations and lack of persuasion during her time as Prime Minister, however, it wasn’t just her lack of political conviction that got her the largest defeat in the history of the House of Commons, but her unwillingness to listen and to take advice that made her lose the support of her MPs and her cabinet members that ultimately lost her the job.
Despite her poor and somewhat awkward attempts at charisma that resulted in embarrassing and stiff robotic dancing, Theresa May certainly wasn’t a Dancing Queen. On the contrary, the Former Prime Minister lacked the likeability and magnetism to lead and inspire, and under her leadership, the UK saw conservatism turn into pandering and compromise. Theresa the appeaser wasn’t just an unflattering moniker, it had become the very core of a party that a relentless and single-minded iron lady had previously championed to triumphant victory, which had now been reduced to nothing more than a joke on the world stage.
Theresa May had the opportunity to lead the UK out of the European Union as Britain’s second-only female Prime Minister, but Instead, she surrendered and cowed in gutlessness and compromise to the opposition.
When the British public needed strength and leadership, all they got was excuses and a lady that most certainly was for turning, again, and again… and again.
The former Prime Minister took her place on the backbenches after leaving 10 Downing Street and remains Conservative MP to her constituency of Maidenhead, Berkshire.