Theresa and Paul: the ultimate love story
- Credit: Archant
The press and politicians have always worked closely together – but Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre and Theresa May are particularly close. LIZ GERARD imagines the star-crossed lovers' story
He was the shy, gangly boy from Arnos Grove with a surprising talent for ball games; she the vicar's daughter who couldn't contemplate anything naughtier than running through a wheat field.
Just two ordinary middle-class people from middle England with values rooted in the middle of the 20th Century. But together ...
The first thing Paul had noticed about Theresa was her kitten heels. He admired her fashion sense but wasn't sure that she was his kind of girl. She was a bit, well, accident prone. Doing things he didn't really agree with. But when she outsmarted that upper-class buffoon Boris, a spark was lit and there was no going back. This was destiny. They would make Britain great again.
Theresa understood that there were girls' jobs and boys' jobs. Girls' jobs included looking good, doing men's bidding – and clearing up their mess. Boys' jobs included putting out the bins and running the country. She had Phil for the former and Paul was happy to take on the latter, although he'd let her think she was doing it. She just had to follow his guidance and put his ideas into practice.
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Sometimes she went a bit astray, but Paul would look after her – even if he had to administer the odd mild admonishment.
This was a slow-burn romance. He liked some of what she said when she was in charge of letting people into (or rather forcing people out of) the country. But she wasn't getting results. When she made an 'important speech' about Bolivians and their pet cats, he shouted it from the rooftops. When she made another 'important speech' a year later, he couldn't be bothered to tell anyone what she'd said; he thought people would be more interested in how she'd changed her shoes.
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In those early days, appearances were everything. There was that plunge-neck dress showing a little too much cleavage on a big occasion at her office. One of Paul's friends said she shouldn't act the strumpet, another demanded to know why she insisted on 'flaunting her agenda'.
Other friends were equally unimpressed.
They criticised her for deporting Afghan translators and for a border 'shambles' after she decided not to spend £4m on some planes to patrol the coast. One, called Richard*, kept saying she was thick as Bisto. Another, called Peter*, said that her 'utterly misguided behaviour' meant she was unfit for her job and should 'certainly never be leader'. Yet another, called James*, mocked her for trying to have her cake and eat it over Europe.
James was one of Paul's most trusted friends, his number one man for keeping an eye on what went on at Theresa's office. What a coincidence that James would one day stand at Theresa's side as one of her most trusted advisers – once she had secured the top job that Peter had said she should never have, and when having cake and eating it was seen as a perfectly sensible approach to Europe.
Paul, too, had harboured doubts. He described her as admirable, but said she cut a sorry figure, was out of touch and tied herself in knots. So what made him change his tune?
Some men might be beguiled by glamour, wit and sparkling eyes. For Paul, it was Theresa's dull pragmatism that proved irresistible.
He was pleased when his former mates Dave and George were defeated and deflated, and was pretty well resigned to Boris taking over the big job. The trouble was, Boris might want to do his own thing. Sarah*, who often loyally wielded the stiletto at Paul's behest, recognised this. She also quite liked the idea of moving into the big townhouse and hosting parties in a country mansion, so she told her husband Michael to stab Boris in the back and go for the prize himself. Michael did as he was told, but Sarah was not to be rewarded.
The next day Paul told the world 'It must be Theresa'.
From that moment he became her most staunch supporter. And never more so than after she uttered the immortal words 'Brexit means Brexit'.
Where once she had been rebuked for showing too much cleavage, she was now admired for showing her legs – and for her taste when she encased them in leather trousers.
Anyone – however high or mighty – who stood in the way of her (or rather his) grand project would feel the full force of his wrath. Judges would be subjected to the sort of treatment meted out in 1930s Germany and be denounced as 'Enemies of the People'. Lords and ladies who raised objections were unpatriotic, traitors. If her friends disagreed with her they were pygmies or saboteurs.
But the greatest contempt was reserved for the man who wanted Theresa's job.
She was Theresa. He was Corbyn.
Corbyn the anti-Semite, Corbyn the friend of terrorists, Corbyn the man who lived in a fantasy land (or la-la land) and wanted to drag us back to the strike-riven 1970s.
Paul was much more interested in going back to the halcyon 1950s.
Unfortunately, a lot of people at Theresa's office didn't really want to do that. They quite liked living in the 21st Century and being friends with their near neighbours rather than with people on the other side of the world, who might not necessarily want to be friends anyway. But Theresa had a clever idea: she'd tell everyone to go home and then replace lots of them with others who thought more the way she did.
Paul was immediately on board. 'Crush the saboteurs!' he cried. Theresa was so popular and so clearly right-thinking that the whole country would agree. Everything would be marvellous and we could soon forget Mrs Merkel and throw out all the foreigners and instead hold hands with Mr Trump and eat his super-clean chickens.
Theresa had all sorts of bright ideas, like making sure that families didn't have to pay too much to heat their homes. Paul was delighted and rushed to shout: '£100 off your energy bill!' How wonderful! Why didn't Corbyn think of that?
Paul seemed to have forgotten that Ed, who used to have Corbyn's job, had exactly the same idea. Paul had described that as 'economic vandalism' that would put up prices. He had been thrilled when the notion 'blew up in Ed's face'.
Another of Theresa's ideas was to make people pay more towards looking after their elderly relatives. 'At last!' cheered Paul, 'a PM not afraid to be honest with you'. This was clear, ethical, Christian thinking on an issue that had been 'shamefully dodged' by her predecessors. 'Yes, homeowners will see assets they have built up over years whittled away by care costs, but at least it'll be fairer,' he said.
He'd clearly had a change of heart since Ed's friend Alan had suggested taking rather less money from families than Theresa intended – and not until the relative had died. Paul had called that a death tax and complained that people who had saved to buy their own home would suffer. 'Once again, Britain's hard-pressed middle earners will have to pick up the bill'. Why couldn't National Insurance cover the cost?
Sadly, Theresa's all-change-at-the-office ruse didn't quite work out and she ended up with fewer friends than she had before, so she needed Paul more than ever. He didn't fail her. They had dinner together. She went to his special party. She heeded his advice on idiots who used their phones while driving and about plastic straws; he trumpeted her bold crusades (although he could never resist adding 'it was really me').
Richard was still not 100% convinced by Paul's new love, but Peter came round. He began to talk of Theresa's magnificent reputation and how she was particularly well-equipped for the top job.
Then a past mistake reared its very ugly head. When Theresa had been in charge of forcing people out of the country she'd introduced some new laws that accidentally meant people who'd lived here all their lives couldn't get a job or operations they needed and might even be deported. The newspaper Paul hated was banging on about it.
Paul suddenly got very cross.
This seemed odd. Especially as everyone else could see that this was all Theresa's fault. And not only that, she had refused to help when Corbyn pointed out what was happening.
But Paul wasn't having any of it. It was a fiasco, but he would protect her. He would sort it out, she'd back-pedal and he would claim credit for setting everything to rights.
This may be a scandal, but it was also an opportunity: a chance to get rid of the woman called Amber, who was now doing Theresa's old job. He'd never cared for her. As his friend Quentin* had once pointed out, she looked like a cross between Tootsie and Mary Whitehouse. Her office was a disgrace. She didn't know what was going on. The whole thing was out of control.
Peter agreed. He denounced her handling of the problem, accused her of ducking the blame and demanded: 'Why is it ALWAYS someone else's fault Mrs Rudd?'
Well, in this case, because it was. It was Theresa. But Amber doesn't much like Paul's very favourite thing and Theresa has promised to bring it home to him. While there's every chance that she will, nothing – even going against his advice and bombing other countries – will drag him from her side.
But – as Dave and George know only too well – if she lets him down, he will not forgive her.