One of Theresa May’s top aides found her “surly and not particularly pleasant” during the 2017 general election campaign, a new book reveals.
The former prime minister called that year’s snap election in the hope of boosting the Conservatives’ majority in the House of Commons, with a view to helping pass Brexit legislation.
However, Mrs May ended up losing the Tories majority and instead had to put together a confidence-and-supply agreement with the DUP in order to keep her minority government in power.
Historian Sir Anthony Seldon’s new book, “May at 10” which is serialised in The Times, includes claims that the ex-premier was a “terrible campaigner”.
Fiona Hill, who served as Mrs May’s joint chief of staff during the campaign, is also claimed to have effectively switched from being communications director at the Conservative Party’s campaign headquarters to being the prime minister’s “minder” during the campaign.
This was because Ms Hill “became so alarmed by May’s state of mind”, Sir Anthony writes.
Recalling one incident in the book, Ms Hill told Sir Anthony: “The journalists didn’t like her. She was surly and not particularly pleasant.
“She was very quiet and seemed unhappy. I asked her, ‘Have you been down to talk to the journalists at the front of the bus?’
“She replied, ‘Why should I?’ I said, ‘Because we’re campaigning and you have to tell them the story.'”
Sir Anthony adds Mrs May was “riddled with anxiety about herself and the result” during the election campaign, while her “constant complaining” began to alienate staff.
One staff member told him: “She was a terrible campaigner.
“She came across as grumpy, entitled and expecting to win, and then visibly irritated when she came under scrutiny.”
The Tories’ 2017 election campaign was marked by opposition to Mrs May’s social care policy, which became dubbed the “dementia tax”, and was supposedly the subject of deep divisions within her top team.
The prime minister is said to have told Ms Hill and her other joint chief of staff, Nick Timothy: “If I don’t have it in my manifesto, it will become an empty manifesto.”
Mrs May is also claimed to have “banged her fists on her desk” and added: “We’re going to do this.”
Ms Hill and Mr Timothy resigned from their Downing Street roles after the election result.
Sir Anthony writes how Ms Hill remembers standing alongside Mr Timothy as he offered his resignation.
Mrs May was said to have responded: “I think you both need to resign.”
Prior to her own resignation as prime minister earlier this year, Mrs May said of the 2017 campaign: “Looking back, it wasn’t a ‘me style’ kind of campaign.
“I should have done the TV debates. I didn’t because I had seen them suck the life blood out of David Cameron’s campaign [in 2010].”
Politics reporter @GregHeffer One of Theresa May’s top aides found her “surly and not particularly pleasant” during the 2017 general election campaign, a new book reveals. The former prime minister called that year’s snap election in the hope of boosting the Conservatives’ majority in the House of Commons, with a view to helping pass Brexit legislation.