Fraser Nelson Fraser Nelson

The lady’s not for quitting

The PM's new right-hand man insists she’s here for the duration

Even Damian Green seems to find it odd that he’s the second most important person in the government. When asked, the First Secretary of State plays down his influence — in fact, he plays down most things. When David Cameron wanted the Tories’ immigration policies out of the spotlight, he put Green in charge of them. And when Theresa May wanted someone she could trust to be her deputy after the disastrous general election, she chose one of the few people in the cabinet whom she can call a friend.

The pair have known each other since Oxford, and now talk face-to-face every day. When we meet in his magisterial cabinet office headquarters, he talks about her with enthusiasm. ‘She’s warm, has a sense of humour, she’s good company and she is, as has been observed, fantastically hardworking and conscientious,’ he says. ‘The more people see that, the better she will do politically.’ And if she hasn’t been doing very well politically, he says, that’s because people haven’t seen the real Theresa May. He thinks they will now.

Most of the cabinet regard the Prime Minister as a caretaker. They think she is staying on from a sense of duty, to get Brexit done and prevent a leadership contest from being dominated by this most divisive of Tory issues. But does she see it that way? On a recent trip to Japan, she was asked if she’d fight the next election in five years’ time and replied: ‘Yes.’ Mr Green says that she was quite serious — and if there is any doubt about that, he’d like it settled.

‘She is a fighter, and she’s got an agenda for the country that she’s passionate about. She wants to put that into practice,’ he says. ‘By 2022, she will have a big record of achievement to show.

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