Remain supporter Theresa May CRIED when she found out that Leave had won the 2016 referendum, according to brutal new biography of the ex-prime minister
- The claim is in Sir Anthony Seldon’s new biography, May at 10
- Says ex-PM was under pressure to back both Leave and Remain and chose latter
- It says she did not expect Leave to win and was upset after the June 2016 result
Sir Anthony Seldon’s new biography of the former Prime Minister, May at 10, reveals that Mrs May was under pressure from David Cameron to back Remain and her top advisor Nick Timothy to support Leave.
She eventually came out on the pro-EU side of the debate but she was the most pro-Brexit of the Remainers in Cameron’s cabinet and even came out against Turkey joining the EU, book extracts published in The Times said.
Neither Mr Timothy, who heard about the referendum result while in Sicily, or Mrs May expected Remain to lose.
When he phoned her on the day after the vote the usually stoic Mrs May was upset and in tears over the Brexit victory.
Mrs May with now Prime Minister Boris Johnson in June 2016, days after the referendum result saw Leave win 52% – 48%
An emotional Theresa May announcing in May that she would quit as prime minister as the Tories fought each other over Brexit
The only positive she saw was the ability to wrest back control over immigration policy.
Mr Timothy reportedly said: ‘Ultimately, she saw Brexit as a damage limitation exercise for those she thought would lose out, rather than what it could and should have been: a positive opportunity for a new start for Britain.’
Mr Timothy was forced out as an adviser to Mrs May along with Fiona Hill following the disastrous 2017 election campaign in which she lost the Tory majority, which was the cause of many of the current problems with getting Brexit done.
He admitted to a mistake in how he drafted a social care policy for the manifesto seen as a major factor in the electoral setbacks that left Mrs May clinging desperately to power.
But he claimed the wider Tory campaign had failed to spot a surge in Labour support even while the Conservative vote soared to ‘historically high’ levels.
Both issued statements defending Mrs May after a former No 10 aide today revealed a ‘toxic’ atmosphere in Downing Street.
Mrs May’s relationship with the current occupant of Number 10, Boris Johnson, is also revealed in Sir Anthony’s book.
She decided to make him Foreign Secretary after he was knifed in the leadership election by Michael Gove, which Mr Johnson accepted by saying: ‘This is a great honour.’
It was hoped that he would be ‘deadly serious, intellectual, capable and very effective’ in the role rather than being the ‘playing-around Boris’ much of the public knew him has, said Mr Timothy.
Mr Timothy (right) was forced out as an adviser to Mrs May along with Fiona Hill (left) following the disastrous 2017 election campaign in which she lost the Tory majority
However by stripping the Foreign Office of responsibility for Brexit and trade, as well as taking control over key foreign relationships herself, Mrs May did not take Mr Johnson’s contribution to government seriously according to the biography.
Mr Johnson was needy as Foreign Secretary, said key May aide Fiona Hill, wanting constant meetings with the Prime Minister who ‘never wanted his input’ on Brexit, a move that soured relations between the pair.
Last week the book claimed Theresa May was a ‘terrible campaigner’ whose ‘inflexible and introverted character’ caused the Tories to lose their majority at the 2017 election.
The account of Mrs May’s brief tenure at No 10 portrays a leader ‘riddled with anxiety about herself’ who was ‘unable to find the words that speak to the nation’.
Her advisers became ‘so alarmed by May’s state of mind’ that one of her top aides was forced to become her ‘minder’ during the campaign.
It says the former prime minister had tears in her eyes during make-or-break decisions when her election plans began to go awry.