THERESA MAY’S evasiveness has been a feature of her premiership from her reluctance to define ‘Brexit’ or inability – during the 2017 election campaign – to be straight with a nurse in York over the human impact of public sector pay restraint.
Often unable to think on her feet, the Prime Minister surpasses her predecessors, according to University of York research, when it comes to equivocation – the political art of evading the question.
Indeed some will be surprised that Mrs May answered 27 per cent of questions during the last election campaign and as many as 11 per cent of points raised by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Yet these findings highlight wider issues. First the increasing reluctance of Mrs May – and Mr Corbyn, for that matter – to take part in set-piece interviews on, say, the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme or Channel Four News.
Second, the trend for more senior politicians to shy away from appearing on programmes like Question Time where they have to engage with the public. To her credit, Labour’s Diane Abbott is an honourable exception to this. Finally, such obfuscation only serves to bring politics per se into disrepute at a time when the restoration of trust will be key to attempts to unite this country following Brexit.
If all senior figures can do is sidestep questions, their place in high office should be questioned. So, in this spirit, here is a straightforward test for Mrs May – when will her social care reforms, postponed five times, be published? Rest assured, we’ll keep readers informed of the response – if we get one.