British prime minister Theresa May ran a stunningly disastrous election campaign, says a former spokesperson for Stephen Harper, and is now behaving in a way that is “totally disconnected from reality.”
Andrew MacDougall, political commentator and former director of communications for Harper, didn’t mince words this weekend as he sat down with The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos to dissect the U.K.’s election results.
May remains at 10 Downing St., but is clinging to power by her fingertips having formed a minority government with support from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party.
“It’s incredible, if you listen to Theresa May today it’s like the last seven weeks never happened,” MacDougall said from London, where he is now based.
“To hear her prattle on about business as usual and Brexit … is totally disconnected from reality.”
WATCH: Theresa May to remain British PM, forms gov’t with Unionist Party
The poor showing from May and her Conservative Party can be traced back to the fact that she, as a candidate, had never really been “road tested,” MacDougall said.
“If you’ll recall, she won the leadership of the Conservative Party, becoming PM, by basically lasting longer in a dime-store version of Game of Thrones.”
During the race itself, May didn’t connect well with voters, was “stiff and scripted” and didn’t meet other leaders to debate Brexit, he added. Her platform was so badly received that she had to reverse course on some policy positions.
Even repeated terror attacks in the U.K. this spring became a liability for the tough-on-crime Tories as questions surfaced surrounding May’s own cuts to the British police service.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn managed to run a much more effective campaign, MacDougall explained, shedding his image as a “surly, prickly” man that nobody expected to be a contender.
“(May) called it the most important election of our time and then campaigned like it didn’t really matter at all,” MacDougall said.
The result is a severely weakened position for the United Kingdom as it heads into negotiations that will see it exit the European Union over the next two years. As a result of her party’s diminished seats, May’s push for a “hard-Brexit” deal is not as likely to make it through the British House of Commons when the time comes for a vote.
“There are fewer Tory MPs, more Labour MPs and less people likely to support what’s called a ‘hard Brexit’ of crashing out of the EU,” MacDougall said.
“She’s a diminished prime minister seeking to deliver on a mandate that she doesn’t have against a negotiating side in the E.U. that is very strong.”
But ultimately, he predicted, May’s government may not last long enough for that to become an issue.
“We’re likely headed for another election here in the United Kingdom sometime this fall and it probably won’t be Theresa May leading the party into that.”
-Watch the full interview with Andrew MacDougall above.