Update #1 from Missy in the UK:
The honeymoon is over for Theresa May as it appears that Cameron’s supporters are starting what one journalist has described as a concerted attack on May in order to destabilise her Government. It started with a speech given by George Osborne the other day criticising the Government’s economic policy and their response to Brexit, but the weekend is when it got interesting as David Cameron’s former Communications director, Craig Oliver – sorry make that SIR Craig Oliver (more on that later) – started flogging his book on the EU referendum, and parts have been leaked to the media.
Along with the predictable stuff about Johnson and Gove betraying the PM, and how they underestimated people’s views on immigration, and how they thought the economy would win it for them, there were a couple of pointed comments on Theresa May. For anyone here who has read my views regarding May’s referendum presence (or lack of) this will be no surprise.
According to Oliver it was suggested that May would back Brexit, so the PM called her had words and hung up on her, apparently satisfied he had made an impact. May then released a statement offering muted support to the Remain campaign.
Oliver accuses May of being a submarine during the referendum campaign – basically nowhere to be seen. She is being accused of not really supporting Remain, offering lukewarm support, and all the time plotting to bring down Cameron. Essentially he now believes that she only offered lukewarm support to the Remain side as she could not be seen going against the PM as Home Secretary.
Now, what the truth in this is, is anyone’s guess, but the idea that May was a Brexiter, but only supporting the PM as he was the PM is one that I have heard a number of times from UK people. Most say that May is a Brexiter from way back, and has always been a eurosceptic. This is leading some in the media to speculate it will be a hard Brexit, not a soft Brexit that many want as it will be almost like Remaining.
Another allegation in Oliver’s book is that May tried to stonewall the PM on the issue of immigration, he claims that she blocked his plans for an immigration brake, supposedly to help the leave campaign – and her future ambitions of being PM. However, many of her allies / supporters have come out today and denied this, saying it was May that wanted a brake on immigration and the PM ignored her.
One thing that is also notable is that May was apparently supposed to go with Cameron in February to try an negotiate a deal with the EU to try and stop the referendum, however, she ended up not going because she had a weekend away with her husband planned. This was when Cameron failed to get any significant concessions – especially in terms of free movement. Oliver suggests that this was deliberate so that she wouldn’t be tainted with the expected failed negotiations.
With regards to the book itself there are a number of controversies around it – and the author, summed up below:
- Craig Oliver is one of the people who received his knighthood when Cameron left office, it is considered by many to be tainted based on the way it was awarded.
- Many MP’s and Ministers have an active dislike of Oliver, and they are all airing their opinions now, the most common one is that many don’t think he was very good at his job, and also they have noted that he used to constantly write notes in meetings, and it was highly suspected that he was going to cash in on being the Communications Director for the PM.
- When a senior public official leaves their position they are not allowed (by law) to make any money from their position – or the knowledge gained whilst in the position – for at least 3 months, and then any position, or potential commercial matter, needs to be reviewed and approved. This means for anyone wanting to write a book they shouldn’t even be optioning it, let alone have it published and ready for sale, for at least 3 months, Oliver has been out of his job for 2 and a half months. It is viewed as being published with unseemly haste, but most recognise it is timed to be released before the Conservative Party Conference in a couple of weeks.