Theresa May the most evasive Tory prime minister in recent years, says study

Theresa May answered Corbyn's questions in PMQs just 11% of the time over two years. BEN STANSALL/AF

Theresa May answered Corbyn's questions in PMQs just 11% of the time over two years. BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) - Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Theresa May gives fewer straight answers than any previous Conservative prime minister in recent times, an academic has claimed.

Her evasive performances, in which she often simply ignores the question, have arguably played an important part in the Brexit crisis, claims professor Bull of the University of York.

Studying May's broadcast interviews, professor Bull compared her responses to those given by David Cameron, John Major, and Margaret Thatcher.

Across six interviews in 2016 and 2017, May only answered 27% of the questions she was asked.

By comparison, Cameron answered 34% of questions put to him in the 2015 general election, and Major and Thatcher each answered 39% during their election campaigns in 1992 and 1987.

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Prime minister's questions was even worse, where May seemed particularly unable - or unwilling - to give a straight answer.

During 23 PMQs in 2016 to 2017, she answered just 11% of Jeremy Corbyn's questions, while Cameron had answered 21% of them in 2015.

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'Of particular interest are her distinctive techniques of ignoring awkward questions, without even acknowledging that a question has been asked, which accounts for 43% of her evasive responses,' said professor Bull.

'She also responds to her own modified versions of questions, not to the version that was originally posed - 26% of her evasive responses are of this kind.'

Professor Bull warned of a potential lack of political dialogue which could undermining trust.

'If Theresa May fails to answer questions, or even to acknowledge that she is not answering questions, to what extent can she be believed?' he said.

'The consequent decline in her political credibility and authority has arguably played an important ongoing role in the current Brexit crisis.'

May's official spokesman said: 'The prime minister has spent very significant amounts of time in the House of Commons, not just at prime minister's questions but throughout the Brexit process, answering the questions of MPs.'

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