A hammer is strong and stable, but it can’t negotiate for toffee. I can’t understand why anyone should vote for Theresa May on the grounds that she would be good at negotiating our exit from the European Union. She clearly doesn’t like meeting people, and when she does, for example in interviews, simply repeats pre-prepared sound-bites robotically, without ever answering the questions put to her. ‘What would you do about the NHS?’ ‘What I believe is that this country needs strong and stable leadership.’ ‘And about the Irish border?’ ‘What I believe is ….’ and so on. ‘Why did you change your mind on social care?’ ‘I didn’t. I’m strong and stable.’ Meeting foreign prime ministers, she invariably puts their backs up. That’s clearly all part of being ‘strong and stable’. She doesn’t seem to be able to think on her feet. Or even to think much at all. Surely an international negotiator should be cleverer, more receptive and nimbler than that? Not just ‘strong and stable’. That’s why diplomats are such notoriously wily beasts. They have to be.
But then she might, of course, leave all the negotiating to her chief diplomat, and court jester, Foreign Secretary Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. There has never in British history been a Foreign minister quite like him. (And I’ve studied a lot of them, right back to Castlereagh.) If he’s a hammer, he’s one of those cheap Wickes ones where the head can fly off. Does anyone think that he would do any better? No-one in Europe gets on with either him or May. I don’t know whether they would with Jeremy; but he and his shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry must be far more reliable pairs of hands.
Let me now say something snobbish. May went to Oxford to read Geography. I don’t know about Oxford, but at Cambridge there was a clear intellectual hierarchy of subjects to study. Classics and Natural Sciences were at the top. History was rather lower. But Geography was definitely at the bottom. In fact I’m not sure whether one could ‘read’ Geography at Cambridge at all. Back in my schooldays it was for the dum-dums (the ‘Lower Sixth Modern’). – Enough said. Sorry, Geographers.
I’m not all that impressed by elite university education in any case. That’s despite having had one. But – Geography?! She must have felt the ignominy.