Normally, when a Home Secretary does a round of media interviews on a Sunday, it means there’s yet another crisis on his or her patch. Today, however, Theresa May, was more than happy to tour the television studios.
Nor did she mind that her sleep on Saturday night was interrupted. She feared a last-minute legal glitch over Britain’s attempt to deport the radical cleric Abu Qatada to Jordan and wanted to know every last move in a saga that had lasted almost a decade.
Mrs May exuded confidence in the interviews but was calm rather than crowing. She didn’t need to say she had succeeded where her Labour predecessors had failed, since that was a statement of the obvious.
The rare good news bulletin from the Home Office will enhance her already growing reputation inside the Conservative Party and her prospects of succeeding David Cameron as its leader. Her fan club among Tory MPs will expand on Tuesday when she announces that Britain will opt out permanently from about 100 European Union measures on justice, home affairs and the police. She no longer needs to talk up her leadership ambitions, after putting herself in the frame in March in a speech ranging well beyond her own brief.
The Home Office is regarded as a political graveyard. As previous holders of her post used to quip, their “clients” included criminals, prisoners and immigrants and so the scope for bad headlines was enormous. Although Mrs May did not sparkle in her several frontbench jobs in opposition, she has looked a natural since becoming Britain’s first woman Home Secretary in 2010, through a combination of good luck and good judgement.
Mrs May should enjoy the good luck while it lasts. She knows that the next time she tours the studios on a Sunday, she will almost certainly have a much tougher time than she did yesterday.