‘Submarine’ May presides over a Tory Party in not-so-well-hidden Euro turmoil


Commentary by Russell Bruce

May faces Tory accusations of failing to campaign for Remain and being an ‘enemy agent’

Just as the Labour party begin a possible reconciliation process that might – or might not – resolve the issue of Corbyn’s leadership, the Tories start to fall apart. At the centre is the same accusation: The leader did not campaign vigorously enough for Remain.

Dive, dive! Undercover May
Dive, dive! Undercover May

If Corbyn’s support for Remain was low key Theresa May’s was non-existent. In his book – Unleashing Demons: The Inside Story of Brexit – Camerons’s long term aide, the newly knighted Craig Oliver, describes May’s failure to back the Remain campaign and Cameron’s frustration with his Home Secretary’s silence. Tory Remainers dubbed her ‘submarine May’ according to Craig Oliver’s account and “was regarded by some as an enemy agent”.

An “enemy agent’ in charge of the Home Office uncovers the depth of distrust within the Tory Party and makes the failed putsch against Corbyn look the amateur event it was. So incensed was Cameron he tore strips off May in a telephone call and she reluctantly put out a statement with lukewarm backing for Remain.


Opinion polling and analysis by YouGov for the Telegraph indicated May had low levels of trust on her ‘position’ on EU membership and referendum. The distrust of May’s position increased between February and April, just weeks before the vote, by which time 61% either did not trust her very much or not at all.

Now May is PM and determined to keep the process of working out a plan for Brexit , the details of the negotiations and the final agreed and sealed outcome, a secret from the public and parliament until all is concluded.


In a stunning accusation against the SNP, May told Holyrood Magazine that she believes the SNP must take their share of the blame for the Brexit vote. It is a classic deflection ploy that will rebound on May as the pressure mounts for clarity over her government’s Brexit strategy.

Few in Scotland, on either side, can be unaware of the SNP’s long-term support for EU membership or Nicola Sturgeon’s high profile defence of both continuing EU membership for the UK and her determination for Scotland to retain membership when England leaves.

Credibility on European matters is not PM May’s strong point. I, for one, am not at all sure what her strong points might be, but there is a strong streak of authoritarianism emerging, unlikely to quell unease in her party and the country about Brexit. Tory turmoil has been unleashed and May has no choice but to ride the Brexit wagon to destination unknown. Scotland has other options.