Theresa May has admitted she should have taken part in TV debates ahead of the last general election and taken a swipe at Tory Brexiteers in her final fortnight as prime minister.
As she prepares to resign her premiership on 24 July and hand over to her successor – likely to be Boris Johnson – Mrs May has reflected on her time in 10 Downing Street.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, the prime minister confessed to some of her mistakes in office – including her campaign at the 2017 general election, which saw her lose her Conservative majority in the House of Commons.
At the time, Mrs May was criticised for her “Maybot” performances and her refusal to take part in TV debates with other party leaders, with then-home secretary Amber Rudd deputising for her.
Mrs May told the newspaper: “Looking back, it wasn’t a ‘me style’ kind of campaign.
“I should have done the TV debates. I didn’t because I had seen them suck the life blood out of David Cameron’s campaign [in 2010].”
The prime minister admitted another of her errors was in her approach to Brexit; the issue which ultimately led to her downfall after she failed three times to pass her withdrawal agreement in the Commons, due to opposition from rival parties and among her own backbenchers.
Hinting at her anger at those Tory Brexiteers who refused to vote for her deal, she said: “I had assumed, mistakenly, that the tough bit of the negotiation was with the EU.
“That parliament would accept the vote of the British people and just want to get it done, that people who’d spent their lives campaigning for Brexit would vote to get us out on 29 March and 27 May. But they didn’t.”
However, Mrs May defended her efforts to get her deal passed, adding: “I did everything I could to get it over the line.
“I was willing to sit down with [Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn, willing to sacrifice my premiership – give up my job.
“People say ‘why didn’t you tip the table over?’ If you do that constantly it’s like the little girl crying wolf, it ceases to have an effect.”
Both Mr Johnson and his rival to succeed Mrs May have vowed to renegotiate a new deal with Brussels in order to deliver Brexit.
But the prime minister offered a curt warning to her possible successors.
“The EU have said they don’t want to and won’t reopen agreement,” she said.
Mrs May announced her decision to resign as prime minister almost seven weeks ago in an emotional speech outside Number 10.
She criticised the focus on the tearful end to her announcement on 24 May, adding: “If a male prime minister’s voice had broken up it would have been said ‘what great patriotism, they really love their country’.
“If a female prime minister does it, it is ‘why is she crying?'”