Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Move over Andy, you're so Sunday - Theresa May is having her moment
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt. As Political Editor and then Chief Political Commentator, he previously covered the John Major and early Tony Blair era. He has written for the Daily Express, Sunday Times, Times and Sunday Telegraph, and Sunday Correspondent. He is the author of Mandelson and the Making of New Labour (2000).
Tuesday 09 July 2013
Move over Andy Murray. You’re so Sunday afternoon. Yesterday MPs on all sides vied with each other to congratulate a new super-heroine. Rarely can a single plane journey have generated such euphoria among those left behind. It would not have been surprising if Theresa May had been carried shoulder high from the Commons chamber after her statement that Abu Qatada had finally left the country.
Indeed, MPs were unable to resist explicit comparison of a woman already touted as a possible Tory leader, with the Wimbledon champion "I'm not sure what gave me greater pleasure on Sunday” declared an ecstatic Andrew Griffiths, “watching Andy Murray's victory or the news that Mr Qatada was leaving on a jet plane."
David Cameron, present to hear Ms May’s statement, was no doubt hoping that some of the lustre generated by Ms May’s “personal triumph” – as Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, no less, described it, would rub off on him. And possibly to ensure the sudden, seemingly unstoppable rise in May shares on the Tory benches did not get totally out of hand.
This proved impossible. The Tory backbencher Robert Halfon, who perhaps to celebrate the immensity of the occasion wore a startling summer suit in an indescribable colour distantly related to tangerine, congratulated Ms May “for joining the ranks of the US Navy Seals in knowing how to get rid of perpetrators of terrorism, even if it was in slightly less violent means." Sir Gerald Howarth said: "May I award you and your entire team with 10 out of 10 for standing up against this man and for British interests."
Like many Labour MPs shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper praised Ms May and her department as lavishly as anyone. But because she dared –politely enough —also to question the Home Secretary’s determination to scrap the Human Rights Act that had helped to keep Abu Qatada in Britain for so long, Ms May retorted fiercely that if could not grasp the “crazy” way the law operated then she does “not get it, and will not get an opportunity to be on the Government side of the House.”
This seemed a bit harsh. But Ms May was on a roll. Invited to comment on the “nay-sayers” who said it would never happen, she declared “I hope that they see the benefit of grim determination when it is put into action" Several of her envious Cabinet colleagues will no doubt be wondering where that “grim determination” will take her next.
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