Theresa May has given up on ‘incompetent’ No 10, say friends: Home Secretary has a vision for Tory future and is determined to see off Boris
- Wide-ranging profile on home secretary will be published on Thursday
- Friends says she has ‘given up’ on David Cameron’s Number Ten operation
- Has now overtaken Boris as favourite to succeed Cameron if Tories lose General Election – friends say she sees him as a ‘faintly ridiculous figure’
- May is now Britain’s longest-serving home secretary in more than 50 years
Theresa May views Downing Street as ‘incompetent’ and has a ‘vision’ for the future of the Conservative Party, an incendiary report claims today.
The Home Secretary, who recently overtook London Mayor Boris Johnson as the activists’ favourite to succeed David Cameron if the Tories lose the General Election, is alleged to have ‘given up’ on his Number Ten operation.
In a wide-ranging profile to be published in Spectator Life magazine on Thursday, a friend of Mrs May is quoted saying: ‘There was a time early on when she would want to please David [Cameron], but slowly she has seen just how incompetent that operation is.
In a profile to be published in Spectator Life magazine on Thursday (pictured), a friend of Mrs May claims the home secretary has ‘slowly’ come to see ‘just how incompetent’ David Cameron’s No 10 operation is
‘How the PM will say he will do one thing, only to be drawn in another direction. She’s given up on him.’
Mrs May, hailed as ‘Britain’s Angela Merkel’ by her allies, would not countenance any sort of leadership challenge to the Prime Minister, and has repeatedly stressed her loyalty to him.
However, she is understood to regard Mr Johnson as a ‘faintly ridiculous’ figure and is determined to prevent him becoming leader in the event of the Tories losing the next election.
This year she became Britain’s longest-serving home secretary in more than 50 years.
Now two of Mrs May’s closest confidants, chief aide Nick Timothy and former spin doctor Fiona Cunningham, have spoken publicly for the first time about what makes the country’s most powerful woman politician tick.
Mrs May pictured with BBC presenter Kirsty Young when she appeared on Desert Island Discs on Sunday
Mr Timothy, who said he was speaking as a long-term friend of Mrs May rather than a Home Office official, refused to accept that Mrs May was risk-averse – and hailed her vision for the future of the Conservative Party.
‘Are you kidding? She went out on a limb on Abu Qatada and never relented, despite various setbacks. Read her speeches. They go way beyond being a mere technocrat, they have a vision of what the future should be about and what politics and the party should be about,’ he said.
Miss Cunningham, who resigned earlier this year after clashing with the then Education Secretary Michael Gove, also rejected the idea that Mrs May was over-cautious.
Mrs May also appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday where she spoke about immigration
‘I think she is a massive risk-taker – huge,’ she said. ‘When she decided not to extradite [computer hacker] Gary McKinnon, she knew the wrath from the States and by God, you know, the tornado that came out of Washington was immense.
Recalling Mrs May’s decision to defy US demands for Mr McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s, after years of controversy in 2012, she added: ‘The call came at about quarter to six in the morning. Theresa simply said, “I’m not going to extradite him,” and I leapt out of bed with excitement.
Miss Cunningham, now a policy analyst at the Centre for Social Justice think tank, added: ‘In my time as a special adviser, I never heard her criticise David Cameron.’
Mr Timothy rejected criticism from some colleagues that Mrs May is a ‘territorial micromanager’. Liberal Democrat Norman Baker resigned from the Home Office this month, complaining that working with her was like ‘walking through mud’.
‘She wants to know what’s going on and wants to have a handle on things,’ Mr Timothy added.
Today Mrs May delivered a speech at the Royal United Services Institute in central London and said Britain faces a bigger threat to its security from terrorism than at any time before or since the September 11 attacks
Katie Perrior, of PR agency iNHouse Communications, who was Mrs May’s spin doctor in opposition, said the Home Secretary delights in the public fascination in her fashionable clothes and shoes.
Miss Perrior said: ‘She wears the clothes to show she is not the person you think she is. Her dress sense shows that risk-taking side. They are hidden signals. Her two fingers, a bit of control she has over her life.’
A Home Office spokesman said of Mrs May’s alleged view of Downing Street: ‘This quote from an unnamed source bears absolutely no relation to the Home Secretary’s view.’