These are the leadership qualities that Theresa May’s successor will need – Bernard Ingham

NEARLY 30 years ago Gavril Popov, the Mayor of Moscow, told Margaret Thatcher: “The Soviet Union is like a boy who has climbed a tree and doesn’t know how to get down but knows he needs to get down pretty quick.”

Combination photo of Theresa May on the day she became PM - and on the day she announced her resignation.

That sums up the current position of the Government and the Conservative Party after the Prime Minister’s resignation and their severe drubbing in the Euro-elections.

Labour’s electoral hammering in its urban and industrial heartlands for messing about over Brexit and the overall triumph of Brexit over Remain parties suggests that the Leave vote is climbing.

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The EU bureaucracy has also been told across the Continent where to put its federal objective called “ever-closer union”.

Theresa May walks back into 10 Downing Street after announcing her resignation. Who will replace her?

In short, everybody has had enough of Brexit. And we Brits want out – and fast. It also seems that the longer it takes the more it will destabilise the EU.

This is the reality that the successor to the hapless Theresa May will face – along with a split nation, party and Opposition, a hostile EU, a biased Speaker, nationalists who want the “independence” of EU vassalage along with the europhiliac Liberal Democrats and Greens.

And yet Tories are massing to succeed Mrs May. This proves conclusively their masochism. How the successful masochist will resolve this impasse has yet to be seen. I do not expect a sudden dawning of intelligent reality among our elected representatives.

We can only hope. But that is not the end of the new leader’s task. The Tory Party no longer knows what it stands for – a truth underlined by the queue of candidates for No 10 promising action against individual current problems instead of clarifying what they stand for and convincing us they know how to achieve it.

In many ways the situation is as bleak as when Mrs Thatcher came to office 40 years ago. After decades of decline, people then thought Britain was ungovernable and she would not last.

But she had a clear objective – to end the drift, get control of the economy and work our way to salvation and global respect.

We have been living off her legacy ever since – even though Chancellor Nigel Lawson took the gilt off recovery by losing control of inflation that had been cut to three per cent by 1986.

Where, undiscovered in the massed ranks of Tory leadership contenders, lies this combination of leadership, clear-sighted objectives, drive and determination to succeed?

Search me.

This could be because you do not necessarily find that rare commodity – a conviction politician – among leading contenders.

So, do not write off any successful outsider. You never know how they will perform until they get the ultimate political post.

This is what I am looking for.

First an attractive figure who is fast on his or her feet and has more than a hint of steel.

But none of those qualities is any good without a new concept of Conservatism to end the mush it has become.

Tell us then why they believe in the British people; how they are going to inspire them to global success outside the EU without breaking the bank; what will be required of them; how the failures in education, NHS, welfare, law and order and the corrupting nature of the internet are to be remedied and the endless capitulation to political correctness ended.

Instead of glib talk, I want a 
serious programme requiring the 
nation to balance its books instead of living on tick.

It is shocking that we have still 
not eliminated Gordon Brown’s monumental £153bn deficit after 
11 years.

At the same time Labour’s Marxist alternative under Jeremy Corbyn must be demolished brick by brick.

Within a month, any new Tory leader must have left no one in doubt why Labour under present leadership will make things vastly worse.

After 22 years of Labour deceit 
and extravagance, a Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition’s temporising and the misery of Brexit we need somehow to get out of the EU and launch a comprehensive programme of 
recovery and development.

I know the natural aim of politicians 
is to climb to the top of the greasy pole – 
a pole never more greasy than these 
last three years of Mrs May. I do not criticise it.

But ambition is one thing. Ability, clarity of vision and resolution are another.

The British people instinctively know what they are looking for: an end to wet incompetence and a strong hand on the nation’s tiller.

Come on someone – anybody – show us your mettle.