Monday July 11, 2016

MP says Theresa May's reputation as a 'bloody difficult woman' makes her well suited for Prime Minister

Britain's Theresa May is applauded by Conservative Party members of parliament outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Monday July 11, 2016. Britain's Conservative Party has confirmed that Theresa May has been elected party leader "with immediate effect" and will become the country's next prime minister.

Britain's Theresa May is applauded by Conservative Party members of parliament outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Monday July 11, 2016. Britain's Conservative Party has confirmed that Theresa May has been elected party leader "with immediate effect" and will become the country's next prime minister. (Associated Press)

A fellow Tory recently described Theresa May as "a bloody difficult woman." The UK's Home Secretary was quick to agree with that appraisal. 

"Speaking as a woman in politics, if you gain that reputation it means you're doing something right." - MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan

Difficult or not, May is now set to become the UK's Prime Minister, after winning a hasty leadership battle triggered by the resignation of David Cameron. 

One of the Conservative MPs May has had to win over is Anne-Marie Trevelyan — an outspoken Brexit supporter. Here is part of Trevelyan's conversation with As It Happens guest host Susan Bonner:

SUSAN BONNER: Why do you think that [Theresa May] will get the job done in negotiations with the European Union? 

ANNE-MARIE TREVELYAN: Jokingly, some of our colleagues have said that she's a very difficult woman. Speaking as a woman in politics, if you gain that reputation it means you're doing something right ... When she sets her mind to a project, she will keep going until she gets the result which is needed for the people she's representing. On the Brexit negotiations, she will make sure she gets the very best deal for Great Britain. 

SB: In 2016, do you think the gender of the Prime Minister still matters?

AMT: Personally, I don't ... Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister who awakened my political interest, but not because she was a woman. She was a determined leader who was absolutely going to make her country well and thriving ... I think Theresa May brings into this new era a voice of strength ... which is what is needed in complex times.

Britain Election

Our guest Anne-Marie Trevelyan walks with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron. (The Associated Press)

SB: And yet the issue of motherhood: When the race came down to two female candidates, one of them suggested that she would be more successful because she was a mother — whereas Theresa May is not. Were you surprised that issue became a part of the debate?

AMT: Journalists — no offence to you guys — are prone to probe questions in every direction. I was asked earlier today what was the difference between Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher. So, is the answer that Margaret Thatcher was into handbags and Theresa May is into shoes? These things are fundamentally irrelevant.

If we discussed the topic of men's ties, we would all be bored rigid. Perhaps, women bring more colour to the job than the grey-suited, white-shirted men who lead our nation. It has nothing to do with their skills. What's important is whether they can take the decision, whether they are capable of good judgement...and those skills are not in many people. 

For more on this story, take a listen to our full interview with Anne-Marie Trevelyan.