Gaunt Theresa May: is it her diet or pressure of work, asks Vaz
As Home Secretary takes on police reform again, senior Labour MP raises concerns about her looking 'a bit thin'
IS THERESA MAY risking her health by taking on the police? Keith Vaz, the Labour MP who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, has this morning raised concerns about the slimmed-down appearance of the Home Secretary.
Vaz tweeted: "A bit worried about Home Secretary she is looking a bit thin these days. A new diet or pressure of work?"
He risks being accused of becoming a Twitter troll for raising the issue of May's newly gaunt appearance. Officially, she has lost nearly two stone in weight because she has been dieting since last summer on not much more but lettuce and thin air.
But the fact is she has lost so much weight that some tweeters have responded to Vaz’s remark by openly wondering whether the Home Secretary is ill. "As much as I despise the woman, would not wish her illness," one person tweeted.
Vaz’s question is likely to set more tongues wagging at Westminster. The Home Office traditionally has been a bed of nails for incumbents, with prison escapes, rising crime figures, immigration scandals and terrorist outrages ensuring that a succession of Home Secretaries have got little beauty sleep.
But May has invited more pressure by taking on the police. Only yesterday she was having another go at them by announcing that the police were no longer going to be able to investigate themselves. As the Daily Mail puts it today, "Thug police face axe: Violent officers will be ‘struck off’ as May tightens conduct rules to restore integrity.”
May’s campaign to reform the police has led to the extraordinary situation where a Conservative Home Secretary is now a hate figure for some in the police force.
Andrew Ward, a custody sergeant with Durham police and an official of the Police Federation - the police 'union' – tweeted in response to Vaz: "I am also worried about Theresa May. Worried about the contempt in which she seems to hold our police service, that is."
May has sought attention in the past for her appearance – she has enjoyed the publicity she’s received for wearing leopard-skin print kitten heels and he signature high-collared outfits - so she can’t complain too much about comments regarding her figure.
But she does need to take seriously the effect her reforms are having on police morale. Former chief whip Andrew Mitchell is privately convinced that their anger at the Tories lies behind the alleged conspiracy to stitch him up over 'Plebgate'.
May did lasting damage to the Tories by saying in 2002 that some saw them as "the nasty party" - a tag they have been saddled with ever since. Now MPs on her own side fear she is in danger of destroying natural Conservative support by taking on the police. She might be wise to follow the advice of Dixon of Dock Green: "Mind how you go."