Belfast Telegraph

Theresa May's understanding of business called into question

Theresa May has a "major weakness" because she does not understand the business world, a former head of Number 10's policy unit said.

Friends and former colleagues of the Prime Minister revealed some of her weaknesses in interviews with BBC2's Newsnight.

Baroness Cavendish, David Cameron's former policy chief, said: "I think she has a major weakness, which is she's not very interested in business and she doesn't understand business terribly well, I suspect.

"And I think neither does her inner circle.

"This, as we head into Brexit, is going to be a major issue that she needs to get an awful lot more sophisticated about giving business confidence."

Other former colleagues suggested Mrs May was not good at forging alliances.

Former cabinet minister Sir Eric Pickles said: "If she was to fail then it might be sometimes the ability to build a coalition inside the parties that support her."

Tory peer Baroness Jenkin said if Mrs May had a weakness "perhaps it would be about not listening to a wide variety of voices".

She also suggested the Prime Minister did not have a "brilliant" mind but was "organised".

"She is not obviously brilliant but she has a good enough mind to have got to Oxford at a time when it wasn't very easy.

"But she has an organised mind and she has a capable mind.

"I don't think it's a brilliant mind, but does that matter?"

University friend Pat Frankland cited her "rigidity" and told the programme: "Possibly her lack of ability to form a gang, I don't know how that works with making her Cabinet into a team.

"Though I'm told she's quite good to work for in the Civil Service sense, so she may be able to do that well."

She also revealed further insights about the Prime Minister's time at Oxford University, where she met her future husband Philip.

Ms Frankland said: "She had a string of boyfriends... they seemed to be more on trial than most things.

"And they'd come into dinner.

"She sometimes seemed to have them overlapping because we get kicked under the table if we started talking about the wrong film and if it's one she's seen with another boyfriend she didn't want to see it again when we were unfortunate enough to inspire the new boyfriend with it.

"Once Philip came on the scene, that was it the others all disappeared."

She said the future PM's political ambitions were clear even while they were students: " She was very interested in politics even then she wanted to be an MP and she seems not remember it but I'm sure she told us she wanted to be prime minister."

Mrs May was "quite irritated" that Margaret Thatcher became the first woman prime minister, leaving her " pipped to the post".