It’s official: Theresa May will resign as Conservative leader on 7 June. Her time in office will forever be associated with Brexit. But the trials and tribulations of Mrs May’s premiership don’t end there.

Let’s take a look at some of her biggest slips, u-turns and broken promises.

The Windrush scandal

One of the biggest scandals to hit Mrs May’s premiership was actually a hangover from her time as home secretary.

In 2012, four years before entering Downing Street, she declared “the aim is to create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration”.

But it was this tough stance on immigration that many say laid the groundwork for the Windrush scandal, in which people who emigrated from the Caribbean in the 1960s on the understanding that they were British citizens suddenly found themselves at risk of deportation.

After the story was reported by Channel 4 News and others in the spring of 2018, the government announced new measures designed to help the “Windrush generation”.

In December, the National Audit Office found that the Home Office “is taking steps to put things right for the Caribbean community, but it has shown a surprising lack of urgency to identify other groups that may have been affected”.

Child refugees

In 2016, Mrs May’s government agreed to take in 480 unaccompanied child refugees after a campaign by Labour peer Lord Dubs, who had initially lobbied for 3,000 to be brought to Britain.

But in November 2018, it was revealed that just 20 children had been resettled in the UK under the scheme. In the 30 months to November 2018, a total of 240 unaccompanied child refugees were admitted.

In December, the government announced it would scrap the cut-off date it had initially placed on eligibility, a move welcomed by campaigners.

The 2017 General Election

Mrs May categorically ruled out holding an early election on at least four occasions after she became prime minister in the summer of 2016. That is, until 18 April 2017 when she asked the public to give her a parliamentary mandate to negotiate Brexit by… calling an early election.

She went into the campaign with a shaky majority of just 17 MPs, but came back to Number 10 without any majority at all.

The ‘Dementia Tax’

The Conservative manifesto contained what was billed as a set of sensible reforms to the ailing social care system — but quickly gained the unfortunate moniker, the “Dementia Tax”.

Just four days after announcing the proposal, Mrs May was forced to issue a “clarifying statement”. Despite her claims that “nothing has changed”, the effect was to backtrack on the now-toxic policy.

O-turns on pensions and winter fuel payments

In a 360-degree spin that Kylie Minogue would be proud of, Mrs May decided to abandon the party’s prior commitment to protect pensions through the “triple lock” at the last election, only to re-introduce the policy a month later.

It’s a similar story with winter fuel payments. In May 2017, the government said it would begin means-testing the benefit (reversing a 2015 manifesto commitment). By June, those plans were scrapped.

Free school lunches back on the table

In another blow for her manifesto, Mrs May was forced to axe controversial plans to replace free school meals with breakfasts for families on low incomes – just weeks after the election.

Do you believe in magic… money trees?

Throughout the 2017 campaign, Mrs May and her colleagues were keen to point out that “there’s no magic money tree” to fund the public sector.

But when the party found itself without a majority in parliament, Mrs May struck a “confidence and supply” agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party to prop her up — pledging an extra £1.5 billion for Northern Ireland to secure the deal.

Winging it on Heathrow third runway

Theresa May’s own constituency of Maidenhead is just down the road from Heathrow. A since-deleted post from her website reveals her history of opposing the airport’s expansion.

In 2008, her constituency site said: “Theresa is firmly against plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport and is campaigning against it on behalf of Maidenhead residents.” The post quoted her saying: “The Government’s case for expanding Heathrow is flawed… I am clear that we must say no to a third runway at Heathrow.”

But in October 2016, the Conservative government led by Mrs May announced that it would endorse the verdict of the Airports Commission that a third runway should be built at Heathrow.

Her 2017 manifesto contained a commitment to continue with the project, and in June 2018 she issued a three-line whip to Conservative MPs to vote for the policy.

Conservative rulebook didn’t mention antisemitism… until it did

Mrs May told parliament in July 2018 that the Conservatives had adopted the full definition of antisemitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance “and all its annexes” – which had proved a sticking point on the Labour benches.

But FactCheck revealed at the time that the Conservative party rulebook didn’t contain a single mention of the term “antisemitism”.

Just hours after we published our article, we noticed that the online version of the Conservative party code of conduct had been updated to include an extra line on antisemitism and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Workers on boards

In the post-referendum blur of 2016, Mrs May pledged: “If I’m prime minister … we’re going to have not just consumers represented on company boards, but workers as well.” But less than a year later, it became clear that her government had dropped the plans.

Fiscal rules, okay?

In autumn 2016 and summer 2017, Theresa May’s government committed to balance the public finances by the mid-2020s. But in 2018, the government set out a budget that means they’ll miss the target by four years, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.


No audit of Mrs May’s premiership would be complete without a look at her handling of Brexit. From her ever-fading red lines to the very question of whether we should leave the EU at all,she’s been no stranger to a change of heart on the topic. Read more about the details here.