Former British prime minister Theresa May has attacked her successor Boris Johnson for ‘diminishing’ the UK’s authority on the global stage. Her remarks were poorly met online, with many arguing that her tenure wasn’t much better.
In an op-ed for the Daily Mail, May wrote that the incoming administration of Joe Biden, whose inauguration as president of the US takes place on January 20, gives Britain “a golden opportunity” to reimagine itself on the world stage.
“I believe a constructive role awaits a self-confident UK – outside the EU but emphatically within the mainstream of western democracies,” the former PM wrote.
May expressed hope that Britain can make “our world a safer place” by partnering with the Biden administration and other allies.
While toting her own ‘Global Britain’ foreign policy agenda, May chided her successor Prime Minister Boris Johnson, without mentioning him by name. She was particularly unhappy with the current government’s decisions to introduce a law that allows it to violate certain provisions of the EU withdrawal agreement, and to cut foreign aid from 0.7 percent of the GDP to 0.5 percent.
“Threatening to break international law by going back on a treaty we had just signed,” and a cut on foreign aid “were not actions which, in my view, raised our credibility in the eyes of the world,” she wrote.
May’s attack on Johnson sparked backlash online. Former MEP David Campbell Bannerman called her remarks “shameful and ill-judged,” while other Twitter users accused May of hypocrisy, saying she “wasn’t much better than Johnson.”
“Something something pots and kettles,” a person wrote.
Others used harsher words. “Competing with Blair for title ‘most despised Prime Minister.’ Why can’t they grasp they’ve been rejected by the voters, their time is over, and withdraw with dignity?” a person tweeted.
May’s attack on Johnson was “quite pathetic,” another argued, adding that Johnson was right to cut overseas spending in the middle of the pandemic, so the “money is better used at home for British people.”
Some, however, came to May’s defence, saying that her performance as PM was better than that of the current government. “She wasn’t so great herself. But by comparison to Johnson, she was bloody amazing!” a person wrote online.
Assuming office in July 2016, May was the first UK leader who had to tackle the outcome of the Brexit vote, which took place that year, and lead painstaking talks with the EU. The deal she managed to secure with Brussels was rejected by the Labour Party and dissenting Tory MPs, which resulted in several embarrassing defeats in Parliament.
May resigned in 2019, with “deep regret” that she had failed to “deliver Brexit.”
An op-ed published by the Guardian shortly after her resignation called May “the worst prime minister in modern times.”