From ConservativeHome in December 2014:
“David Cameron, Boris, Osborne, Michael Gove: they have their rows and their rapprochements…None the less, the four have a lot in common. All were privately educated. (The Mayor and Gove were scholarship boys.) All studied at the same University. Three were even members of the same society. All have worked either as special advisers or as journalists – or in the Chancellor’s case, both. All came into the Commons during the Blair Supremacy: it left a mark on each of them. In short, all are members of the Club – sociable, political to their fingertips, birds of a feather.
Theresa May also studied at Oxford, and nurtured political ambitions early. But there the resemblance ends. She was educated at a private school, a grammar school and a comprehensive (the second having become the third). She worked at the Bank of England, rather than in a government department or at a newspaper. Unlike any of the four men, she has served as a local councillor. She is of an older generation. At 58, she is eight years older than Boris, nine than Cameron, eleven than Gove, and a full 15 years older than Osborne.
But biggest difference of is nothing to do with age – or even temperament, though she is famously reserved where they are outgoing. The difference between her and the four men isn’t so much one of belief or outlook or even approach to politics as one of sex and sensibility. “She’s always a woman to me,” sings Billy Joel. In quoting him, I am showing my age. But the point remains. Why do Boris, Osborne and Gove all converge to agree: Anyone But Theresa? Could it be because she’s not a member of the Club.”
Today, as Michael Gove takes Boris Johnson over the edge of the Reichenbach Falls, the Men v May view looks, more than ever, to have a point.
The Justice Secretary could stage a comeback, make it to the final, and beat the Home Secretary in the ballot of members. Or he may be overhauled by Andrea Leadsom or Liam Fox or even perhaps, given the larger number of pro-Leave candidates, by Stephen Crabb.
But this afternoon, May’s distance and difference from the two men who have run the Government (Cameron and Osborne) and the two others who together planned to succeed them (Gove and Johnson) is serving her in good stead. Conservative MPs seem to be looking to her as the grown-up in the pack.
It ain’t all over till the fat lady sings, and we are a very long way from the end of this contest. None the less, it’s looking good at the moment for a rather thinner lady. We will put our ten questions to her and to Gove tomorrow.