One can only imagine what went through the mind of Theresa May as the clock struck midnight to herald the beginning of New Year. Concern, perhaps. Trepidation, somewhat. Hopefully, though, what she felt the most was confidence: confidence in herself and confidence in her country. Surely, 2017 is going to be the year that she does us proud.
In her New Year message, the Prime Minister acknowledged how divisive the referendum campaign was and said that, as she sits around the negotiation table, she will keep in mind that she is there to get the right deal ‘not just for those who voted to leave – but for every single person in this country.’ Watching this, what came to mind was a video from BBC’s Newsnight. The filmmaker caught the reaction of a Vote Leave campaigner in Burnley when he informed her that Britain had indeed voted to leave the EU. It would take somebody with a heart of stone not to be moved as she became overcome with emotion and, with tears glistening in her eyes, said ‘We did it. Everybody woke up in time.’ Finally, she felt listened to, and Theresa May – not Tim Farron or Jeremy Corbyn – is the person who will continue to do so.
Mrs May is not concerned with the interests of incredibly wealthy individuals, who attempted to bully the electorate into voting how they wanted, but with the average person. The person who – as she said outside Downing Street on her first day in office – is ‘just managing.’ The person who she promised that her government ‘will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours.’ Her first Budget, which will hopefully see cuts in taxes and a movement towards the smaller state, will define her premiership, and how she intends to see words translated into policy.
With any luck, and with a greater display of dedication to the ‘just managing,’ she will scrap plans to increase business rates which – experts warn – would increase the price of products. With consumer confidence at a high, this would be a dangerous stumble. Her dedication to increase investment in housing will invariably benefit first time buyers who, otherwise, would be unable to form a home and take a step onto the property market.
It is not only at home that her true test will come. With relations heating up between countries, certainly not helped by Barack Obama’s inflammatory actions towards Russia and words towards Israel, she will be propelled onto the main stage of a rapidly developing world. In the past, her criticism of John Kerry’s 71 minute statement on Israel as ‘inappropriate’ because of his attack on ‘the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally’ could have been diplomatically problematic. Now, however, with Donald Trump taking the Oval Office on the 20th January, things are different. In aligning herself with the soon-to-be President of the United States, she is forging an intellectual alliance with a man who has promised to treat the United Kingdom with respect.
What she will not be thanked for is her possible agreement to a second Leveson Inquiry, and the introduction of Section 40, which would require news publications to sign up to a secondary adjudicator or be forced to pay their own legal fees, even if they win the case. This blatant threat to press freedom must be opposed and – as a sign of respect to the ordinary people who she vows to represent – she should do whatever she can to stop this punitive measure being passed. In the meantime, I encourage you to display your opposition to this here – you do not need to like what is being published to defend the right of people to read it.
Theresa May, it has become abundantly clear, knows what she thinks and she knows what she wants to be done. In such a way (one of the few ways, in fact) she is reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher. Let us hope that in the coming year – when confronting men and women who seek to disrupt ideals of liberty and freedom – Mrs May channels the might of Mrs Thatcher and echoes her immortal words: ‘No. No. No.’
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