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16th Nov 2018

Alastair Campbell explains why no one should feel sympathy for Theresa May

Alan Loughnane

“Sympathy for Theresa May? That’s lethal”.

Theresa May has gained sympathy in some quarters this week as her so-called Brexit agreement has been ripped apart by hard-line Brexiteers like Jacob Rees-Mogg, as well as others like Dominic Raab who we had previously been led to believe were in charge of negotiating this deal.

Speaking to Dion Fanning on an episode of Ireland Unfiltered that will be broadcast on video and audio this Tuesday, 20 November, Alastair Campbell rejected the idea that anyone should feel sympathy for the Prime Minister.

Campbell also spoke about how “Brexit is like an implosion”, and why he believes there should be a second referendum. But during the course of the hour-long interview he explained why May should be spared your sympathy.

Dion Fanning: There’s been a surge of sympathy recently.

Alastair Campbell: That’s lethal. That is lethal.

Dion: You don’t think that’s admiration for her resilience?

AC: I think people do admire her resilience and I think that people do feel like she has a really strong sense of duty and I think people feel that, they’ll give her that.

But I think once you’re a leader… there was a period when people were starting to feel sorry for Gordon Brown. I can remember once Dennis Skinner saying to me, ‘Once you get sympathy you’ve had it.’

I once had this conversation with Bill Clinton. Tony [Blair] had asked me to go see Bill Clinton to talk about myself, because I was at a period where there was a real crossroads in my life and I was getting battered left, right and centre and I was thinking of leaving.

We ended up talking about Tony and I can remember Clinton saying, ‘Sometimes I get the feeling he thinks he should get a blue ribbon for doing the job. The job is the blue ribbon.’ It’s such a privilege to do the job. So I think that once you start to say about leaders, ‘I’m beginning to feel sorry for her’, that’s a bad place to be.

Dion: I’m not sure how she can think it’s a privilege to be Prime Minister at the time she became Prime Minister, considering post-Brexit, it’s been all anyone has ever talked about in Britain since.

AC: That’s partly because of the way that she’s been handling it. Look, I accept it was a very difficult thing to pick up. I don’t think it’s ever not a privilege to be Prime Minister.

You can listen to the fifth episode of Ireland Unfiltered, Dion Fanning in conversation with Alastair Campbell from this Tuesday, 2o November by simply subscribing here.