The old Stock Exchange adage ‘Sell in May and go away’ reflected an expectation of falling markets and uncertainty over the Summer months. We could be in for something similar.
It would be hypocritical to say anything other than I am glad at Theresa May’s decision. I have been of the view for a very long time that she was finding it impossible to lead the country, not least through Brexit. Her going will, I hope, free up a new Leader to do exactly that - Lead, which has been lacking from her incumbency.
Yet on a personal level, most decent Tories, and most decent Brits, will have felt for her as her voice broke outside No 10 as she announced her departure. Hers has been a close to impossible task; and whatever else you may say about her she has tried her best. Her guts, stamina and determination are plain for all to see. She thought she was doing the best for the country and the Party she loves. And we should give her credit for it. Few human beings would have stood up to the pressure under which she has laboured for the last 12 months or so. And she has been absolutely stoical. So, let’s give her the Trump State visit and the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings to mark the end of her Premiership, and then we must let her go with dignity and poise.
My phone has already been buzzing with all sorts of new-found friends, as the 25 or so candidates to replace her gear up their campaigns. I never knew I was so popular - and if I accept all the dinners and drinks on offer I will get very fat. My plan is to interview every single one of them, to try to find out how they would lead the country and the Party. It is leadership we want. In particular, whoever wins the contest must be ready to deliver the clean Brexit for which the people voted. I will keep you up to date with my thinking as the contest develops.
My instinct is that we need a Brexiteer, which narrows the field. Boris is streets ahead in the country. He has his risks and downsides; but he has got bags of charisma and character, and he would be an inspirational, if worrying, leader. Dominic Raab is probably next, but seems to me rather to lack that invisible stardust which a new leader needs. Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt - all are possible.
We must now get on with it; select the right person, install him or her with as little delay as we can, and get the Government back on track. Mrs May’s departure opens up the possibility of a brand-new start. Let’s make the best possible use of it.
I salute her on a personal level and thank her for all she has tried to do for the Nation. But she is right to ‘Sell in May and go away.’