The graceful ending to a disastrous premiership

Image: Sky News
Theresa May outside Downing Street.

Make no mistake, Theresa May’s heartfelt speech outside downing street announcing her resignation, does not eradicate the mess left in her wake. However, it offered a mere slice of her humanity.

All week, the country has been kept on tenterhooks as tensions built within the Conservative Party with persistent failures to reach Brexit agreements, ahead of the EU Parliamentary Elections. The disastrous results for the Conservatives still await. But they really are on their final straws of legitimacy. And on these final straws, rested Theresa May’s announcement to leave office on June 7.

Stepping out of downing street in a bright pink suit, Theresa May meant business as she delivered what is likely to be, her final announcement to the country as Prime Minister. Although she was keen to divert attention from her failures during the past three years, she was keen to note her achievements. However, the history books will be the real judge of her premiership in the decades to come.

May pointed our her achievements in outlining the establishment of the Modern Industrial Strategy, a program that aims to create jobs for the whole country, and not just London and the South East. May also drew attention to the first time buyer scheme, a policy to tackle plastic waste and preserve the environment, and her recently announced plan to give increased funding to mental health services within the NHS.

However, one cannot help but feel this is all a little too late. Despite expressing a huge amount of human exasperation, dignity (probably for the first time in office), and a real desire to have tried to deliver Brexit, May’s accountability for creating the disasters prevalent in the country cannot be eradicated in the sweep of this emotional speech.

Just yesterday, I took the overground tube to New Cross in East London. During my twenty minute journey, I was approached by ten young people, asking for money so they could have a chance to have a bed to sleep in and a hot meal just for one night. Throughout London and the rest of the country, rough sleeping and homelessness is on the increase. The mental health of some of the most vulnerable people in our society is only escalating, with our NHS lacking the funding to provide for it. Austerity’s impact is long term and it should never be forgotten.

In three years, we have seen May resilient and determined to, “deliver Brexit and serve the British people with policies inspired by our values” in the wake of that mission she has ended in failure, whilst creating deeper divisions in British society. However, in this speech, for the first time in three years, I felt an ounce of sympathy for May, but only ever on a human level. She stated how “it [had] been the honor” of her life to serve this country and be the, “second female prime minister but certainly not the last.” With her voice breaking on the last premise where she expressed the love she had for this country, Theresa May finally appeared to be human. Nevertheless, this last minute humanity and grace shown in today’s speech, should not remove attention from the mess she created.

For all her desperate attempts to appear as the human martyr, May’s failures should never be forgotten and she will not be forgiven in history. Delivering Brexit may have been an impossible task for anyone, however, the storms of depravity she left, alongside rising social divisions, declining services, and failure to address the real social problems that have been left untouched for three years, should be the real ode to her legacy; not the tears shed in her remorse, during a desperate attempt to justify her premiership.

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Violet Daniels

Editorial Director
Full time History student | Editor of the Yorker 2017-19, Alumni & Public Relations Officer 2019

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