This week marks the first anniversary of Theresa May becoming Prime Minister. But the ‘celebrations’ couldn’t have got off to a worse start for the PM, as a senior Tory minister stumbled around four different newsrooms – and failed to deliver a ‘strong and stable’ message about May in any of them.
May is reportedly going to deliver a speech on Tuesday 11 July; one which will outline her plans to invite Labour to help create government policy. As The Guardian reported, the speech:
will be seen as an attempt to relaunch her faltering premiership, [but also] challenging MPs across the spectrum to ‘come forward with your own views and ideas about how we can tackle these challenges as a country’.
Car crash one
With this in mind, First Secretary of State Damian Green was rolled out by the Conservative Press Office on Monday 10 July to promote May’s new vision. Green kicked off the pile up of car-crash interviews on BBC Breakfast. Host Dan Walker put it to Green that [0.35]:
A year into the job, is there much to celebrate for Theresa May?
It wasn’t as good as we Conservatives would have wanted. That’s perfectly clear. But the message I take from it is that people want politicians to address the big issues. And if they can do it across the divide of parties, then so be it…
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Car crash two
But when Nick Robinson asked Green about the same subject on BBC Radio 4 Today, his response was completely different. Robinson asked: “when did she [May] make up her mind that it would be possible to stay on as Prime Minister?” To which Green replied:
What convinced her was the election result…
the Conservative Party got the most votes, got the most seats… It is her duty… And she still has the same ambitions for this country as she had a year ago… She has a programme for Britain… that will spread prosperity around this country…
So no mention of cross-party working, there. But things reached peak difficulty for Green when he faced LBC‘s Nick Ferrari.
Car crash three
The host came straight out and asked Green “what went wrong” with the election result. The minister said:
Err… well… the election result happened. It wasn’t as good as we thought… [but] we have a majority in parliament.
And amid repeated probing by Ferrari about May’s plans to work with Labour, Green fell apart. When Ferrari said “the Conservatives don’t have the answers, anymore”, he said:
Well, we… we… certainly have answers… and, err… we’re not asking for… as I say, people can either contribute or they can just criticise…
Ferrari asked Green whether he was “really portraying this as a position of strength”. And he said that “this is a pretty grim time” for May. To which the minister replied “I’m portraying it in a realistic way”. But Green then ran out of steam:
Car crash four
And when Green appeared on Sky News, things didn’t get any better. He was asked if “things got so bad that [May’s] reduced to asking the opposition for help?” To which Green said:
No, it’s, it’s not asking for help, err… it’s saying that, you know, we can do politics one of two ways… we can either just, err, sit in our trenches and shell each other. Or, if there are issues of overwhelming national importance… umm… [cough] then we can work together.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 10, 2017
As politics.co.uk Editor Ian Dunt put it:
This May relaunch is utterly vacuous and Damian Green sounds like he knows it.
The first week of July was characterised for May by repeated in-fighting within her party, rumours of a leadership challenge, and constant questions about the strength of her leadership. Green’s media appearances were probably intended to cement the PM’s position amid uncertainty. But with his soundbites, varying messages, and lukewarm support for cross-party working, all the minister managed to do was set the theme for the forthcoming political week. And it seems that theme will be the same as the last one: Mayhem for Theresa May.
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