Theresa May’s Cabinet gave her leaving gifts seemingly inspired by Margaret Thatcher this morning as she delivered a parting shot at Boris Johnson over his No Deal Brexit plan.
The outgoing PM was handed a black £650 Liberty Bucket Bag along with a canvas clutch as well as a Lalique necklace which cost £495.
Mrs May hosted her final Cabinet meeting in Downing Street and warned the new Tory leader he must deliver a Brexit that ‘works for the whole UK’.
Mr Johnson was elected as the new leader of the Conservative Party today, securing a crushing victory over rival Jeremy Hunt, and he will be installed as prime minister tomorrow.
Mrs May will formally resign after taking part in her final Prime Minister’s Questions and she congratulated Mr Johnson in the immediate aftermath of the result being announced.
But the outgoing premier issued a barely disguised attack on Mr Johnson’s Brexit plan as she appeared to take aim at his ‘do or die’ promise to take Britain out of the EU with or without a deal on October 31.
His stance has prompted widespread outcry among Europhile MPs and has raised the prospect of a catastrophic Tory mutiny should he try to proceed with a disorderly split from the EU.
Mrs May urged Mr Johnson not to adopt a divisive course of action as she said he must ‘work together’ with MPs.
The giving of the gifts to Mrs May effectively brought to a close her three years in Number 10 as she now prepares to vacate the iconic building tomorrow.
Theresa May has urged Boris Johnson to deliver a Brexit that ‘works for the whole UK’ after he was elected the new leader of the Conservative Party
Mr Johnson, pictured today after being named Mrs May’s replacement, has vowed to deliver Brexit by October 31 ‘do or die’
Mrs May was given this black £650 Liberty Bucket Bag as part of her leaving present from Cabinet ministers
Mrs May was also given this £495 Lalique necklace as well as a canvas Liberty clutch
It came on another eventful day in British politics as:
- Mr Johnson crushed his rival Jeremy Hunt in the Tory leadership contest as he won by a margin of more than 40,000 votes.
- The new Tory leader recommitted to his promise to take Britain out of the EU with or without a deal by October 31.
- Nigel Farage questioned whether Mr Johnson had the ‘courage’ to actually take the UK out of the EU without a deal by the Halloween deadline.
- Mr Johnson was greeted with whooping and banging of desks as he arrived to address the backbench 1922 committee at Parliament after securing the top job.
- He started preparing for government by appointing Mark Spencer, a little-known outside Westminster but respected behind-the-scenes operator, as his chief whip.
Mrs May responded to the Tory leadership contest result by tweeting: ‘Many congratulations to Boris Johnson on being elected leader of the Conservatives – we now need to work together to deliver a Brexit that works for the whole UK and to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of government.
Theresa May’s Cabinet leaving gifts
The outgoing prime minister was given some expensive leaving gifts at the end of her final Cabinet meeting.
She was given a black £650 luxury handbag made by Liberty.
The Liberty Bucket Bag was accompanied with a canvas clutch.
She was also given a necklace made by the French luxury jeweller Lalique.
The necklace cost just under £500 with the three gifts believed to have cost an estimated £1,500.
‘You will have my full support from the back benches.’
Her comments are likely to be seen as a pointed word of caution to her successor to try to seek a consensus on Brexit rather than forging ahead with a controversial No Deal plan.
Mr Johnson’s insistence that No Deal must be kept as an option has prompted pro-EU Tory MPs to mobilise against him.
They have vowed to oppose any attempt to take Britain out of the bloc without a deal.
Meanwhile, a number of Remain-backing ministers including Justice Secretary David Gauke and Chancellor Philip Hammond are set to quit the government rather than let Mr Johnson sack them.
The former foreign secretary has insisted that all of his ministers will have to support the option of a No Deal divorce.
Mrs May hosted her final Cabinet meeting in Downing Street this morning when members of her top team clapped and banged on the table as a mark of appreciation.
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: ‘There was a mood of thanking the Prime Minister for her service.’
Environment Secretary Michael Gove presented Mrs May with gifts from her Cabinet of a black handbag from Liberty and a Lalique necklace.
The meeting finished with her de facto deputy David Lidington thanking her for her ‘great dedication to public service and her commitment to the Union’.
The gift of the handbag could been seen by some as a nod to Mrs Thatcher who became known for ‘handbagging’ her opponents.
Her 1984 ‘handbagging’ of the EU is still a totemic moment for Eurosceptics.
The PM secured her reputation as a fierce negotiator by demanding ‘our money back’ from what was then the European Community.
Before she confronted fellow leaders at the former French royal palace at Fontainebleau, the UK had far less favourable contribution terms than other member states.
But Mrs Thatcher was able to narrow the gap by securing a ‘rebate’ that closed around two thirds of the gap.
Francois Mitterand, the French president at the time, memorably described Mrs Thatcher as having the ‘eyes of Caligula and the lips of Marilyn Monroe’.
Mrs May confronted Jean-Claude Juncker at an EU summit in December 2018 after he had reportedly called her ‘nebulous’
The PM – wielding her handbag – was pictured taking Mr Juncker to task for the comments which he subsequently denied making
Mrs May has also had her own ‘handbagging’ moments, perhaps most notably in December 2018 when she confronted Jean-Claude Juncker at an EU summit after he had reportedly called her ‘nebulous’.
A visibly furious Mrs May asked Mr Juncker: ”What did you call me? You called me nebulous.’
But Mr Juncker insisted he had not as he said: ‘No, I didn’t, I didn’t.’
Mrs May had announced her resignation earlier this year in a last ditch attempt to persuade Tory MPs to back her doomed Brexit deal.
But it failed and last week she made clear she had been hurt by the manner in which she has been ousted from Number 10.
Boris starts preparations for government as he appoints chief whip
Boris Johnson was cheered to the rafters by Tory MPs tonight – as he got his leadership off to a running start by appointing Mark Spencer as his chief whip.
Mr Johnson was greeted with whooping and banging of desks as he arrived to address the backbench 1922 committee at Parliament this afternoon after securing the top job.
The new Conservative leader spent the afternoon thrashing out the shape of the rest of his team with aides amid high secrecy, with rumours swirling over who will get the biggest posts when he officially takes over from Theresa May as PM tomorrow.
He kicked off the process by drafting in Mr Spencer, who is little-known outside Westminster but a respected behind-the-scenes operator.
She said: ‘I put my own job on the line. I was told that if I said I would stand down then the votes would come behind the deal. I said I would stand down and I am doing so. The votes didn’t come. That’s politics.’
Mrs May’s spokesman said today that the current government ‘could be proud of the progress made’ on ‘tackling the burning injustices such as access to mental health treatment’.
He added: ‘The PM thanked the Cabinet for all they have done during her premiership, which she said had done much to improve people’s lives.’
Mr Johnson praised Mrs May for her ‘extraordinary service to this party and this country’ and said it was a privilege to serve in her Cabinet.
In his victory speech, Mr Johnson thanked Tory members for the ‘extraordinary honour and privilege you have just conferred on me’.
‘I know that there will be people around the place who will question the wisdom of your decision,’ he said.
‘There may even be some people here who still wonder what they have done.’
Mrs May will head to Buckingham Palace after PMQs tomorrow to formally offer resignation to the Queen.
Mr Johnson will then be invited to go and see the monarch when he will be asked form a new government.
The gifts given to Mrs May are likely to invoke memories of Margaret Thatcher who was frequently pictured with her famous handbag and became known for ‘handbagging’ her opponents