The Suffering of Theresa May
The Twelve Stations of the Cross of she who hath taken the sins of Brexit upon her shoulders.
Cross image: Pxhere / CC0. Theresa May: Steven Scott Taylor / Alamy Stock Photo
Dragged to the dispatch box, her voice pulped by a cold, three years work crushed in an evening, husking out each syllable like the death rattle of a wounded kazoo – this week it was impossible not to think back on all the agonies that Theresa May has gone through since she became PM.
What sane person would put themselves through what she has? The question seems unanswerable – until you change the frame, and figure out that this isn't politics for her, it's an expression of Christlike suffering.
It makes perfect sense when you look for it. This vicar’s daughter, this devout Anglican, knows the Bible inside and out. She knows only too well that “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins – and not only our sins but the sins of all the world” – 1 John 2:2. And she has decided that the only remaining purpose of her life is to embody that living sacrifice.
Q: Who could withstand the past two years' humiliations?
A: Someone who believed not in "delivering a Brexit that works for all", but in "taking all the suffering of the world upon their shoulders, to transmute it into unending divine grace".
While Theresa is doomed to fail on the matter of Brexit, she can still have redemption on a different spiritual plane. She is a saint. So without a hint of blasphemy, this Lent we offer you: The Twelve Stations of the Cross of Theresa May.
THERESA IS CONDEMNED TO PREMIERSHIP
After Gove kills Boris, and another woman, Andrea, curses the womb of Theresa, she is handed the Premiership on a plate. From this moment on, she is condemned to govern.
THERESA ACCEPTS HER FATE
It is immediately obvious what a poisoned chalice this will be. The demons of the world visit her, taking the form of David Davis, and say unto her that the right of her party will never accept a deal that keeps them in the Customs Union. A world of suffering opens up before her, including regular contact with Iain Duncan Smith.
OUR SAVIOUR IS TRIED BY ITV
The blameless lamb admits that the naughtiest thing she ever did was run through a field of wheat, thus fulfilling the prophecy of 2 Corinthians 5:21: "He who knew no sin was counted as sin in order that we might become the righteousness of God." Yet her statement is greeted with mockery by a country that does not wish to repent.
SHE IS HUNG BY PARLIAMENT
Over the course of the election, an entire country has scrutinised Theresa’s personal flaws. At the ballot box, they tell her she is hideous. The ten-seat majority she inherited has been turned into a seven seat deficit. "THERESA DISMAY", the Sun crows, thus fulfilling the prophecy that she will be betrayed three times before the cocks crow. To step down would be sweet release. Governing will be a daily war against the impossible. Yet St Theresa sees the tsunami pain coming her way, and accepts it.
SHE IS CONDEMNED TO BAD LUCK
Halfway into her speech at the Tory Party Conference, Theresa is seized by a coughing fit, a sign falls down, and she is manhandled by piss-poor comedian Lee Nelson. Satan sends his demons to give her a proper kicking, but rather than set down her burdens with a tersely-worded resignation statement, Theresa continues to shoulder the impossible.
THE SCOURGING DANCE
Humiliated exactly a year before, blameless Theresa is sent out by her faithful wonks to ritually humiliate herself, in accordance with custom, jiggling semi-rhythmically to "Dancing Queen" by ABBA in front of every senior politician in the country. A nation is so agog with cringe that it quietly erases the event from its collective memory.
THE BARNIER CUCKING
Returning from Brussels, bearing a Draft Agreement, Theresa enters the time of trial and weeping and gnashing of teeth and frankly just needing to sit in the dark watching TV smoking and sinking scotch for six weeks. Her own MPs tear her apart, the press eat her alive. She loses as many cabinet ministers in two years as Thatcher did in 12. Yet somehow, her love for still being Prime Minister transcends all understanding.
THERESA IS BETRAYED BY JACOB
The disciple Jacob, son of William, a rich man, stands up to tell his leader that he will not follow her any longer. Thus, as Zechariah 11:12 says, "I told them, 'If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.' So they paid me 30 pieces of silver." A leadership election is set for later that day. May wins – but a third of her party vote against her. In any other circumstance, that would mean her resignation. The humiliation is unprecedented – for anyone except Theresa.
MAY LOSES HER AGREEMENT THREE TIMES
Theresa says, "I shall ask Parliament for my question." But she is struck low: the three largest losses by a government in British history. Her humiliation is not merely for today anymore – it will be read by children in the history books for as long as these isles exist.
MAY IS SENT TO THE EDGE OF MADNESS
Having lost the crucial 12th of March vote, her voice still broken, the PM is brought back to the dispatch box. Michel Barnier announces that there will be no extension without a Withdrawal Agreement. But the one thing we know is that MPs won’t approve a Withdrawal Agreement. They will approve an extension. But the EU won’t approve an extension without a Withdrawal Agreement. But MPs won’t approve a Withdrawal Agreement. They will approve an extension.
She is tested by being shown Hell Itself: to be at the centre of the madhouse, the balancing force between twin madnesses, inheritor of maximum political power, yet utterly, utterly impotent.
TBC: THERESA IS DEPOSED
King Boris sends a delegation of cabinet ministers to her. Her heel breaks as she walks out to the podium at Downing Street to announce her resignation, and an anvil falls from the sky onto Palmerston, the Downing Street cat. "All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads" (Psalm 22:7).
TBC: THERESA WRITES HER MEMOIRS
My Story: The Downing Street Years is picked up by HarperCollins for a £350,000 advance – less than half of what Cameron, an even richer man, got. May sets forth upon a tour of book shops to promote it, but lacking the snappy humorous tales to tell unto Graham Norton, publishers pulp the last 200,000. So it is written, in Psalm 22:2: "O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest." (This is also every Drake song ever btw.)
Yea verily, I say unto ye: we should not see Theresa May as the weakest Prime Minister of modern times, we should see her in the same way we see Maximilian Kolbe. It is us who are incoherent, stupid, wretched, flawed, sinful, with our phone calls to Nigel Farage’s LBC show hinting darkly at civil war; it is us who cannot agree on a favourable tariff policy that also limits the Four Freedoms while integrating Ulster. She died so that we might live within our own bullshit.
Got something to say? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to write to our letters page.