Did you know that, before the development of modern tests in the middle of the 20th century, Britain’s National Health Service used to check whether a woman was pregnant by injecting a toad with her urine? I confess that I didn’t. Sadly, it was just about the only truly arresting thing I learnt from reading Theresa May’s new book.
May’s book is not, for the most part, an autobiography or even a first-hand, blow-by-blow, tell-all account of her rise to political prominence, first as home secretary in David Cameron’s Cabinet and then as prime minister following Cameron’s resignation in the wake of the UK voting to leave the EU in 2016. For a thorough study of May’s political career, readers will need to turn either to Anthony Seldon’s May at 10 or to Rosa Prince’s arguably mistitled Theresa May: The Enigmatic Prime Minister, although the latter needs updating to take account of its subject’s fall from power in 2019.
Instead, May’s book is a series of case studies of scandals which she was apparently able to use her position in order to bring to light. In many cases she claims to have achieved some measure of justice for those involved. Consequently, her book risks being seen as not