Theresa May, as we now know thanks to her fields of wheat confession to ITV, led a relatively sheltered early life. She is unlikely to have had a series of inappropriate teenage boyfriends and met her future husband, Philip, at university at the tender age of twenty.
So, in contemplating her post-election deal with the DUP, we wondered if a key part of the Prime Minister’s informal education had been missed. Most of us have dated at least one douchebag at some point, and learned vital lessons about what is important in a partner and what kind of compromise is – with hindsight - a stretch too far. We’ve borrowed Gurl.com’s helpful list of 12 things you didn’t realise you’d learn from your first relationship as a helpful guide to make up this gap for the Prime Minister.
As Selena Gomez said about her first love Justin Bieber ‘It almost felt like all we had was each other, like the world was against us, in a way. It was really weird but it was incredible… I would never take it back in a million years. You live and you learn, you know?” So, what lessons could Theresa May learn from everyone else’s love lives to guarantee a better outcome for her new relationship with the Democratic Unionist Party…
1. It’s best to keep things more private
The ship has already sailed on this one. Both sides have shown a willingness to publicly abuse the relationship, briefing their thoughts and demands to the media before a first date was even agreed. Gossip from Conservative backbenchers led Unionist sources to retaliate, accusing Downing Street negotiators of being “chaotic” and saying the Tories needed to “show our party some respect” asserting they shouldn’t “be taken for granted”. Given the way the Conservatives treated their last boyfriend – poor old ex, Deputy PM Nick Clegg – the DUP perhaps ought to be a little wary.
2. You will do the things you said you’d never do
Remember when you were single and watching friends get into relationships and become obsessed with their significant others? Swearing you’d never get slushy and romantic, jealous or force them to do things they didn’t want to do? May said during the election that she would scrap the pensions triple lock and introduce means testing for winter fuel payments. Announcing her new relationship with the DUP she dropped these promises – although that may have had more to do with their massive unpopularity amongst older (largely Conservative) voters across the country. The DUP might be more stubborn however, as one of its leading MPs, Ian Paisley Jnr, told Parliament this week the party will not compromise on its anti-abortion views as part of its deal with the Conservatives.
3. Your friendships will change
Wales and Scotland are unhappy with the PM’s new relationship. Welsh Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones called the deal a "straight bung" that "kills the idea of fair funding". SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon called it “shameless and grubby” and “the worst kind of pork barrel politics” – but hey were they really Theresa’s friends anyway? True friends stick with you even when you neglect them for new found love. So, the Prime Minister may be more worried by the concerns raised by Education Secretary Justine Greening and influential Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson over gay rights in particular, although not so much the now 750,000+ people who signed a petition against the deal.
4. You wont always feel so crazy in love
After the first honeymoon period, relationships change and slow down. Lest we forget the Rose Garden love-in between David Cameron and Nick Clegg when the Coaltion was first created. The love didn’t last there and don’t expect it to here. Having won their initial support for a confidence and supply arrangement the Prime Minister may tire of the DUP returning with more demands – as Nick Macpherson, a former permanent secretary at the Treasury, warned that the party founded by Ian Paisley would be “back for more” cash “again and again.”
5. Trust is really hard
Once you’re in a relationship you see how hard it can be to totally trust someone, even someone you really love. Preach gurl.com. In life and in politics.
6. Jealously can ruin everything
Wales and Scotland are particularly jealous of the funding promises made to Northern Ireland. It threatens to potentially undermine the establish principles of devolution and the Barnett formula. Given the narrow working majority and the number of controversial votes that the Government will need DUP support to pass, learning this lesson will just be a matter of time.
7. You’re more willing to forgive the person you’re dating
We shall see…
8. Once someone has moved on that’s it
Gurl.com says one of the scariest lessons you'll learn after a first relationship is that, at a certain point, things will be over, and there will be nothing you can do about it. In politics too there are some battles that you just can’t win. Labour backbencher, Stella Creasy forced a concession from the Government last week, that even the DUP couldn’t prevent. Under current rules, Northern Irish women are charged around £900 for having an abortion in England. Creasy tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech, calling for Northern Irish women to be afforded the same reproductive healthcare in England as anyone else. As pressure grew on the Conservatives to justify their policy, and their fears grew that the amendment would pass with the help of pro-choice backbenchers in their own party, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a u-turn. Hurrah for women everywhere we say.
9. Hooking up is not the most important thing
Metaphors are never perfect, the less said about this lesson the better…
10. It's ok to miss being single
Theresa May has the support of her backbenchers having assured them “I got us into this mess and I’ll get us out of it.” But as time passes, more and more of them will long for a working majority of their own and dream of ways to ditch the DUP. Currently the lack of appetite for another election, concerns over the complexity of Brexit and the lack of a credible alternative leader are holding them back - but give it ‘til Christmas (traditionally a time for relationship tensions) and see how they feel then.
11. Sometimes you can’t listen to the advice of others
Gurl.com says you'll come to see that sometimes, other people's advice does more harm than good. Sometimes it makes things more complicated. The general election result saw the resignation of two key, controversial, advisers to the Prime Minister, who were widely condemned for the poor campaign performance. Combined with a high turnover in the Downing Street policy team, Theresa May has been left increasingly alone and isolated. However, she is now looking to correct that with ex Housing Minister Gavin Barwell stepping into the Chief of Staff role, former BBC politics boss Robbie Gibb becoming her new Comms chief and the promotion of Damian Green to ‘First Secretary of State’ all indicating that the PM is gathering a new coterie of advisers around her.
12. You both need time for yourself
“It's so important to learn how to love yourself and to not be completely dependent on the person you're dating” according to Gurl.com. Chance would be a fine thing, is what we suspect the Prime Minister would say to this one. At least she and her ministers don’t have to share their official residences with the DUP, like they had to in the Coalition - so there will be a little breathing space occasionally.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want serious political advice or even possibly a shoulder to cry on.