A butterfly emerges…

The last two weeks have been extraordinary in terms of the pace and clarity demonstrated by our new Prime Minister.

After almost thirteen years on the opposition front bench and just over six in government where she has navigated the political landscape with doggedness and skill, we are now seeing the blossoming of a more confident and emboldened Theresa May where she is quickly revealing her true colours and priorities.

The extensive reshaping of the government and her first forays out of Westminster also give an indication of her priorities and determination as well as a certain steely impatience.

Her first speech after kissing hands with the Queen was notable for two reasons; first the nailing of her unionist colours to the mast and second, her commitment to tackling social injustice.  Drawing heavily on her first speech as a leadership candidate as well as her speech to the ConservativeHome conference several years ago, the very clear commitment to make her government serve the wider country rather than a more privileged elite shows an agility and responsiveness to some of the underlying anger that led to the recent referendum result.  

 Her first foray away from Westminster was to Edinburgh to meet Scotland’s First Minister principally to discuss Brexit underlines her commitment to the Union.  If she can provide reassurance and deliver on Scotland’s key EU priorities as part of the Brexit negotiations and the oil price continues to stay around its current levels, the case for a second Scottish referendum is significantly undermined.  In a funny way the more difficult Sturgeon is, the more Scotland might actually help secure a better deal for the UK as a whole, with countries such as Spain and Italy not wanting to encourage a breakaway Scotland or the separatist movements in their own back yard.

Theresa’s reshaping of her Cabinet was brutal with just a handful of cabinet ministers remaining in the same role.  The average age of the Cabinet has moved from 46 under Cameron to 56 under May.  Serious times clearly call for more experienced heads.

Unsurprisingly the key roles tasked with delivering Brexit have been filled by prominent Eurosceptics in the guise of Liam Fox and David Davis. The quartet of Greening, Amber, Green and Truss have been charged to deliver Theresa’s ambitious social justice agenda.

And then there was that PMQs. Her first outing at PMQs was quite an event and in a number of respects it had to be.  The last big set piece event of the parliamentary term, Theresa needed to provide reassurance to her supporters that they have backed the right horse and, after a brutal and bruising referendum campaign the resignation and sacking of the ancient regime, show the whole parliamentary party and the country that there was a strong hand back on the tiller of government. It was a masterly performance and will have sent the parliamentary party off on their summer break with a renewed confidence and spring in their step.

Now the hard part starts; governing with a small majority and not being deflected by events.

This article was written by Frank Browne