The picture above sums up the last few months in British politics, the reaction live on television of Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor of The Times, to Boris Johnson withdrawing from the Tory leadership race.
Theresa May’s lack of a mandate could cause her problems.
If events had gone to schedule, the result of the Tory leadership contest would have been announced today, Andrea Leadsom’s disastrous ‘mother superior’ interview helped put the kibosh on those plans. But in hindsight Theresa May might be regretting Andrea Leadsom’s decision to withdraw from the contest and denying Theresa May the comprehensive victory amongst Tory members the polls were indicating.
17.4 million people voted for Leave, Theresa May became Tory leader & Prime Minister with fewer votes than some parish council by election winners. If in the Brexit deal she resiles from the expectations of Leavers, particularly on freedom of movement, there might well be questions whether Mrs May has the democratic legitimacy to do so.
In politics, like in other aspects of life, size is important, if Theresa May had won the Tory leadership with the votes of 100,000 Tory members, it might help dispel the notion she lacks a mandate.
With the majority the Tories currently enjoy in parliament being won by someone who is not Theresa May, I suspect Prime Ministers who become Prime Minister without a general election feel like they are a rival to Henry IV as the country’s most famous usurper, until they win their own general election.
Every Conservative Prime Minister since 1979 has seen their premiership either ended or be destroyed by European Union matters, Theresa May needs to work hard to make sure she doesn’t experience the same destiny, obtaining her own mandate at a general election might help her avoid the fate of her predecessors.