It’s all in the deal

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to life as normal, the 2017 General Election delivered the final twist of what was one of the most intriguing campaigns in living memory.

This week, it’s all about the deal; a deal for the Tories, a deal for the DUP, a deal for Theresa May and a deal for the country. This is of course just the hors d’oeuvre before the main course – a deal with Europe to decide the direction of the country.

Such has been the earth splitting pace of the past few days that it is worth a quick recap on what has befallen Theresa May, who looked such an unshakeable presence on the UK political stage a month ago. The term hubris has its foundation in Ancient Greece, and refers to the kind of foolish pride which is worn by the powerful shortly before a fall.

There were many lessons that Theresa May (and her team) failed to heed in the election campaign, simple lessons that apply as much to presenting a seminar to an audience from any business sector in any conference hall on any given day of the week: Know your objectives, know your audience and know your topic well.

If you are prepared, then you can respond if things are not going your way. Unfortunately, Mrs May was not prepared for things when they started to get rough (the sight of her imploring “nothing has changed” like an eccentric aunt as she U-turned on the badly conceived ‘Dementia Tax’ became a much pilloried image of her election). It could be said her team was certainly not prepared for Jeremy Corbyn to come barnstorming his way to centre stage either.

As a result, in the past few days, Mrs May has choked down a large serving of humble pie in order to try to win back the favour of the party she led down a path to near disaster, buoyed by the hubris that came with having her and a small cabal of advisers dictate the direction of the campaign. Two of the culprits – Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill – have been jettisoned and in the ensuing fall out, Mrs May’s wisdom on everything from social policy to the direction of Brexit has been called into question.

This fall from grace is uncomfortable and Mrs May’s rhetoric, forged in the fires of zealous campaign management has returned to haunt her. While she herself edited her line to ‘certainty and stability’ on the steps of Downing Street the morning after her party’s victorious (yet calamitous) result, others took the opportunity to revel.

One European Commission official was quoted in the weekend’s press, commenting on the impending start of Brexit negotiations; “It’s pointless to consider hypothetical scenarios: Brexit means Brexit and unless we have some strong and stable leadership at the British end we will end up with no deal at all.”

However, perhaps the most gleeful of those revelling in the schadenfreude of the occasion has been former Chancellor George Osborne, quickly dispatched by Mrs May (and her team) after her accession to the leadership last year. As editor of The Evening Standard, he oversaw four, yes four, different front covers rolling out last Friday pouring scorn on Mrs May’s debacle and could hardly contain himself on The Andrew Marr Show as he referred to TM as a “Dead woman standing.”Can Mrs May prove him wrong? It’s all in the deal….

I shall sign off by reminding you that the phrase ‘a week is a long time in politics’ was coined by Harold Wilson, the Labour leader who returned to power as head of a minority government in 1974. Two years later he resigned…

Luan de Burgh

June 2017

Luan de Burgh is a speaker, writer and founder of The de Burgh Group – a specialist business communication training provider dedicated to helping people perform at their highest potential.