What happened in Theresa May’s car crash LBC interview?

She refused to say how she’d vote in another EU referendum – but that’s not all.

NS

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

The Prime Minister is getting a lot of stick for an excruciating interview she gave Iain Dale on LBC. Hesitating and stop-starting like a rabbit in a field of wheat caught in combine harvester headlights throughout the 40-minute slot, Theresa May’s inability to say whether she’d vote Brexit drew most pundits’ attention.

Asked three times whether she would vote to leave the EU in the event of another referendum, May struggled to answer either way.

“Well, I’ve… I don’t answer hypothetical questions but what I have… have… well, I voted Remain, I voted Remain for good reasons at the time. But circumstances move on, and I think the important thing now is that I think we should all be focused on delivering Brexit, and delivering the best deal…”

Etc.

Rarely does your mole buy May’s argument, but her assertion that she’d weigh up the circumstances and make a decision like she did last time is fairly reasonable, and probably inspired more sympathy among Remainers than Brexiteers.

However, as the PM who is supposed to be delivering Brexit, she should’ve had a firm answer to this classic gotcha question rather than sitting on the fence. If her deputy Damian Green managed it on Newsnight (he’d still vote Remain), and Jeremy Hunt the Health Secretary did when asked the same question (he’d change his vote from Remain to Leave) on LBC, then she should be able to do it too.

Also, the idea that she doesn’t “answer hypothetical questions” is a bit of a stretch – given she’s repeatedly said that she’d press the nuclear button as a first strike in the event of nuclear war.

So May should’ve known better how to answer that one, but even worse were her rather flustered answers to meatier, surely more predictable questions about why she didn’t have cough sweets on her during her party conference speech, and how she feels about the Tory MP Grant Shapps mounting a coup against her.

She hesitated, spouted clichés and looked panicked – not something you can get away with as Prime Minister when even radio interviews are now filmed for the world to see.

Watch the full interview here:

I'm a mole, innit.