The plan was to have the new PM in place by 9th September, after what would have been an excruciating summer of a Leadership battle. No-one, including Theresa May, expected it all to be so swift and clean. She was not my first choice, it is true; but my goodness she is living up to expectations and more. She cannot have planned to be in action so soon, but she has wasted no time.
The Reshuffle was brutal, but it gave her administration a fresh new look. She was on the plane to Scotland within 24 hours of her unexpected arrival in No 10; then it was Germany, France, Poland and elsewhere.
Then we felt the firm smack of leadership as she delayed the Hinckley C announcement. There are of course massive arguments on both sides – jobs here in the West; carbon reduction; guaranteed electricity for now and future generations. There are downsides – a high price, albeit one guaranteed for 50 years; sovereign risk through Chinese- and French - investors; capital risk of an £18 billion project; the environmental risk associated with the eventual disposal of the nuclear waste and so on. There are a thousand matters to be weighed up. The easy option for a new PM would have been to let it waft through. It would have kept the Chinese and the French happy. And she could always have blamed her Labour and Conservative predecessors if it had all gone wrong. But not our new PM. She put a stop to it to be able to give it her full attention and come to a clear and fresh decision.
That she has ‘hit the ground running’ is for sure. The sacking of George Osborne, the trips to Scotland and Europe, Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, reorganisation of Government Departments; and all of that alongside the vastly demanding everyday business of being Prime Minister. She hit the ground, and at enormous pace. So I am in huge admiration of the new PM. She may not be flamboyant; but she is highly competent and able. Perhaps that’s what the country now needs as we seek a new period of stability.
Of course it’s not just down to her. She has put in place a tremendous team of support staff in No 10 and throughout Government. These people - the Special Advisers (of which I used to be one), Policy Unit people; Diary secretaries and private office; they and dozens more work under vast pressure, all hours of the day, 24/7. It is they who ensure that their PM delivers in the way that Theresa May is doing. They are relatively poorly paid, by and large, and allowed little real private life. Theirs are amongst the most demanding of all roles in Government today. So I am quite clear in thinking that the retiring PM is quite right to recognise them for the huge contribution they make to the tough job of being PM and running the country. These people have made a truly magnificent effort on behalf of the nation, and it is right and proper that they should be recognised for it in the Honours List.
We lesser mortals stand in awe of the new PM and her staff and Administration. If they keep going the way they have started, Britain is in good hands indeed.