Talk to the hand, Leadsom: Theresa May's perfect first day | John Crace

Move over, Machiavelli. There’s a new priestess of politics in town and she’s got some sacking to do. Next!

Theresa May bounced into her Westminster office. She could have just sacked the dead wood over the phone like most prime ministers have done, but why deny herself the pleasure of doing it in person? First in the queue outside her door was Michael Gove.

“Hello, you treacherous little shit,” she said, evenly. “I’ve never liked you. Let alone trusted you. You’re fired.”

“Please don’t,” Mikey whimpered. “Sarah will kill me if I come back with nothing. I’ll do anything. Junior minister in transport...”


Next was Nicky Morgan. “Can you give me one good reason why I shouldn’t get rid of you?” Theresa snapped. Nicky’s mouth opened and closed without saying anything. Same as it always did.


In came Oliver Letwin. “You’re sacked.”

“Really? I didn’t even know I had a job.” Oliver had never been the most worldly of politicians.

“Brutal reshuffle,” shouted the hacks gathered in Downing Street as Theresa walked back into No 10. Theresa grinned for the cameras. Yes, it had been and she’d enjoyed every second. She had waited years to settle some of these scores. Now for the equally fun bit of dispensing favours that could be cashed in later.

Liz Truss was first through the door. Liz had gone down a storm at the previous year’s party conference, venting her fury at cheese. Who better to put in charge of justice? “Freedom for the Wensleydale Four,” Liz shouted cheerfully on her way out.

Then came a nervous looking Jeremy Hunt. Understandably. Theresa had already briefed the BBC that he was going to be sacked.

“I know I’ve been totally useless and I’ve messed up with the junior doctors,” Jeremy pleaded. “But I can do better. I promise.”

“Lucky for you, no one else wanted your poisoned chalice,” said Theresa, narrowing her eyes to mere slits. “But you’re on a final warning. One more cock-up and you’re toast.”

“Oh thank you, thank you.”

Jeremy couldn’t help punching the air for the photographers as he walked out of No 10. “I haven’t been sacked,” he yelled. Everyone was just as astonished as he appeared to be.

Time for a breather and some lunch. Theresa switched on the news to find that, in his first address to Foreign Office staff, Boris Johnson had promised to re-colonise Africa and pose naked as Mr November for President Putin’s 2017 calendar. Maybe it hadn’t been quite such a good appointment after all.

Patrick McLoughlin came and went fairly quickly. He didn’t look nearly as pleased to be offered the post of chairman of the Tory party and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster as Theresa had expected. “But you’ll be able to appoint a few vicars and magistrates, Patrick,” she said to his departing back.

More of a problem was Stephen Crabb, who had spent the previous 90 minutes chained to a radiator, after being informed he was being sent back to the Welsh office from the Department for Work and Pensions. “I’m a Crabb,” he pointed out, reasonably. “I’m used to going sideways, but I’m buggered if I’ll go backwards.”

“The thing is this, Stephen,” Theresa said. “Your sexting wasn’t a good look. It’s Wales or nothing.”

“It’s nothing.”

“As you wish. Consider yourself a hermit Crabb.”

Chris Grayling also appeared underwhelmed to be put in charge of roadworks on the A303 and making sure HS2 was indefinitely delayed. “But I was your right-hand man throughout your leadership campaign,” he wept.

“But Chris, you always said you weren’t doing it in the hope of any reward.”

“I didn’t mean it, though.”

“Tough. It’s the best I can do. They don’t call you Failing Grayling for nothing.”

Theresa’s phone rang. It was one of her special advisers, reminding her she had forgotten to appoint someone in charge of the Department for International Development. She groaned. There was just so much to remember. “Do we have anyone who has actively campaigned to abolish the department?” she asked.

“Yup. Priti Patel.”

“Great. Give her the job.”

By now it was getting late in the day, but Theresa had got her second wind. Besides, she had been saving the best till last.

“Bring me the head of Andrea Garcia,” she commanded.

Andrea Leadsom duly trooped through the door.

“You’ve been a right pain in the neck during the referendum campaign and since,” Theresa observed. Andrea tried to get in a word to explain how she hadn’t meant any of it, but Theresa just showed her the palm of her hand.

“It’s been brought to my attention that your extensive knowledge of farming has led you to state that hill sheep smallholdings should be converted into butterfly sanctuaries,” Theresa said. “As a result of this, I have decided it’s only right to put you in charge of the environment, farming and rural affairs. Now go and explain to the farmers how they’re going to be worse off without their EU subsidies.”

“But I hate the countryside...”


The perfect end to the perfect first day.


John Crace

The GuardianTramp

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