Before I examine why Theresa May has been forced to resign, it is important to state that it’s impossible not to feel sorry for her. She is a dedicated public servant with a clear sense of duty.
With that said, however, the brutal truth is that Mrs May’s legacy is one of failure. The Conservative Party is split; parliament is in paralysis; the country is jaded. All roads lead back to her.
Tory MPs must take a share of the blame. Those of them who are honest have been asking themselves for months how and why they sanctioned Mrs May becoming their leader in the first place. Without wishing to kick her when she is down, it has always been transparently obvious to anyone with a political brain that Mrs May was never party leadership material and has almost always been out of her depth as prime minister.
Indeed, even in good times she might have been found wanting. Of course, the last three years have been anything but straightforward. But a party which was content in 2016 to appoint the wrong person as its chief ought to ask itself some urgent questions.
Other than having the wrong personality for the job, Mrs May’s principal problem is that she never believed in Brexit. As starting positions go, this made her totally unfit for the task she faced. On top of this, she allowed herself to be dominated by Remainer civil servants who think they know better than the electorate.
This was the toxic background to her dealings with EU bully boys like Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier, two men whose overriding desire since 2016 has been to reduce the UK to the status of an EU colony. At the same time, sincere colleagues of Mrs May such as David Davis, the Leave-voting former Brexit secretary, were pushed aside. In hindsight, it is remarkable that a figure of his experience was ever permitted to walk off the field before the final whistle.
A further fundamental problem of Mrs May’s time in Downing Street is that she is not a conviction politician. She is the opposite, in fact. A non-conviction politician will always look for some sort of compromise – a bit of this and a bit of that. Yet some things in life things are either black or white. They have no in-between. And Brexit is one of them.
Had Mrs May had the grit required to oversee Britain’s clean withdrawal from the EU, she would have appointed a cabinet solely of Brexiteers in order to act upon the instruction delivered by the people in the referendum. In trying to keep both sides happy by having a cabinet of Leavers and Remainers, she ended up pleasing nobody – least of all the voters.
The Tories must now choose a genuine Brexiteer to lead them. I would have thought this much was obvious to any Tory MP who wants their party to survive. David Cameron and Theresa May have both been forced to quit within 36 months of each other because of their pro-EU instincts. If the Conservatives make the same mistake again by insisting on having as their leader someone who is not rigidly Eurosceptic, the party will be finished.
The new leader needs to be unequivocal from their first day in the job in stating that Britain will leave the EU on 31 October come what may. If they want to even begin to make their party a credible outfit again, and if they have any serious desire to win back the trust which has been squandered over the last three years, putting a No-Deal Brexit back on the table is the only way to do it.
In my capacity as leader of the Brexit Party, I have spent the last six weeks touring Britain, meeting voters and addressing rallies. With the help of a remarkable group of men and women who stood as Brexit Party candidates, I ran a very positive and optimistic European election campaign. Our focus was on democracy. We were always clear with every person we addressed that democracy means accepting the possibility of a WTO Brexit – indeed, embracing it. The response we got to this message was phenomenal.
It is no secret that Brexit Party supporters do not trust the Conservative Party any longer. I believe that a high percentage of Brexit Party voters want to stay with us at the next general election. They agree with us that it is time to change politics for good. What began as a campaign to get Britain out of the EU has developed into a movement to tackle other burning issues like electoral reform and House of Lords reform. We intend to go on fighting all the way to the next general election in order to ensure that these boils are lanced.
In my opinion, Theresa May has been the worst prime minister in Britain’s history. She completely misjudged the mood of the country. Her successor will fare no better unless they vow to take the UK out of the EU by 31 October. And that’s just for starters.