I’ve met David Cameron and Theresa May – and they are very different characters

The outgoing prime minister was charming and well-mannered whenever I met him, and gave the impression of being calm under pressure.

He might not have had Tony Blair’s incredible ability to make you feel like you were the only person in the room, which I saw first hand in the 2005 general election. But neither did he have the brooding character of Gordon Brown.

Right! Good!

David Cameron has an easy affability, he’s a good sort of chap. The type that your mum would love to be your friend (unless they’re die-in-the-wool opponents). The outgoing prime minister was also fond of the quip, but perhaps his character was given away by his announcement today that he would be gone by Wednesday!

A Liberal Conservative

At that first Rose Garden press conference with coalition partner Nick Clegg, there was something of a bromance and joshing, and ribbing between the pair. He was a huge contrast when he arrived in No 10 to Gordon Brown in the dog days of the last Labour government.

I always got the feeling that Mr Cameron was a liberal conservative, so his support for gay marriage was telling.

Libya

As a political editor based in Westminster for several years, I remember well a lunch for political journalists based in the UK parliament that Mr Cameron was the guest speaker at. It was interrupted by news that Gaddafi had been captured by rebel forces in Libya. The prime minister obviously had to leave as the news filtered through.

Subsequent events following his decision to join the international intervention against the Libyan dictator have led some to question the effectiveness of Mr Cameron’s actions.

Europe

For all his initial attempts to re-position the Tories, it was Europe that ultimately led to his downfall as it had for previous Conservative prime ministers. His decision to call a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, seen partly as an attempt to stave off the electoral threat from Nigel Farage’s Ukip party, will go down as a defining moment in history.

After getting his deal from Brussels, Mr Cameron fought from the front in the referendum campaign –  which is perhaps to be admired rather than lowing low as other leading lights of the UK cabinet chose to do.

Ultimately, he lost the referendum and his job. Whether he could have got a better deal, and thus won the referendum, will forever be a what if deal.

But there’s no doubt that Mr Cameron will be an historic prime minister, leading a coalition government and then calling a fateful referendum.

Theresa May – the ‘Ice Maiden’

Britain’s next prime minister Theresa May is definitely a different character to Mr Cameron. The current home secretary, who I’ve met, is recognised as not being particularly clubbable.

Mrs May’s attitude could be seen as aloof, but maybe she was wisely keeping her distance and simply didn’t feel the need to be over-friendly. Can you see her getting the moniker, call me Theresa like Call me Tony?

She didn’t appear too bothered to curry favour. Just take a look at the police, when she urged their union that they had to change. Nick Clegg reportedly even reportedly called her the ‘Ice Maiden’, so you get something of the impression that Mrs May portrays.

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‘There’s an obvious reason why I’m not part of the old-boys’ network — I’m not an old boy. I’ve always taken the same approach in every role I’ve played, which is I’ve got a job to do, let’s get on and deliver,’ she told London’s Evening Standard a few days.

Perhaps, just perhaps that’s a good thing in these times . Oh, and there’s a Labour leadership election happening too…

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Photo: David Cameron gave a speech outside Number 10 Downing Street on 24 June 2016, following the EU referendum announcement that the UK had voted to leave the European Union. Photo: Crown Copyright Credit: Tom Evans

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