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Theresa May was a weak leader but her successor could prove even worse

Britain's fractious relationship with the European Union has destroyed yet another prime ministerial career, Theresa May yesterday following David Cameron in resigning over the disastrous folly that is Brexit.

In fairness, she was handed an incredibly difficult job when she succeeded Mr Cameron, who had made a monumental miscalculation in offering a referendum on leaving the EU in a bid to see off the threat from Nigel Farage and shore up the divided Tory party.

His gamble failed in spectacular fashion when, against all the odds, disaffected Leave voters turned out in droves to secure a surprise victory.

Having created this problem, Mr Cameron was quick to stand down, handing his successor the task of negotiating a withdrawal deal which didn't ruin the economy while keeping on board the more extreme Conservative eurosceptics.

It is fascinating to compare the body language of Theresa May and that of the man who created the vacancy which allowed her to assume the top position in government.

When he resigned following the referendum result, he was positively chipper, humming a jaunty tune as he walked back to Number 10 after his speech, no doubt relieved the cares of office had been lifted from his shoulders.

By contrast, Mrs May was in tears, a rare display of emotion from someone who is known for a strong sense of duty and dogged determination, despite the many setbacks she endured.

Two very different personalities but both unable to deal effectively with the EU issue.

The question now is, can another leader do any better?

Mrs May made major errors, completely underestimating the significance of the Irish border, setting down red lines that ruled out membership of the customs union and single market, then calling a general election in 2017 which resulted in her losing her majority and leaving her hostage to the DUP.

Rather than trying to build consensus, she focused on appeasing the Brexiteers and when that failed tried belatedly and half heartedly to appeal to Remain MPs in other parties.

Her time in office has been characterised by chaos, ineptitude, poor judgment and lack of strategic clarity.

However, bad as she was, the next leader could prove to be even worse, certainly if it is someone prepared to leave the EU without a deal, something that would be catastrophic on a number of levels.

Her departure also throws the future of Stormont talks into doubt although few here will miss Karen Bradley if she finds herself out of a job along with Mrs May.

Brexit has changed everything in British politics, the normal rules simply no longer apply.

As ambitious Tories jockey for position, they should be careful what they wish for.

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