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What does Theresa May's body language tell us about her response to her leadership crisis?

Theresa May could smile in the Commons amid a difficult week, but what does her body language really say? Credit: PA

As the pressure piles on from the EU leaders and the Commons over this week’s Brexit deal chaos, Theresa May’s performance is under the fiercest of spotlights.

It may be all smiles for the camera but what is the prime minister’s physical performance telling us about her leadership?

Voice and body language expert Caroline Goyder gives her verdict to ITV News on how Mrs May is handling the most stressful of weeks.

Fighting back after the vote of no confidence

Caroline Goyder believes there was Credit: House of Commons/PA

"She is literally fighting for her life, given the pressure of being prime minister,” Goyder told ITV News after observing the Tory leader's performance at PMQs.

“It’s interesting how May really found her fire in her response to Corbyn,” she said.

“That power and energy would help her in other parts of her leadership, particularly when it comes to framing the vision, giving people hope,” she added.

Neither strong nor stable

Theresa May delivered her speech after the 1922 Committee announced that enough Conservative MPs have requested a vote of confidence in her leadership. Credit: PA

Which is quite different from how Goyder judged Mrs May announcing the “meaningful vote” would be postponed earlier this week.

Goyder observed the prime minister displayed typical closed body language, saying: "The way she holds her shoulders and her head shows a fight or flight response.”

She noted: "She has never physically portrayed a strong and stable leader. She has improved but when the pressure is on her voice is high and thin."

The statement read by Mrs May was taken with breaths from her upper chests which reveals she is “someone fighting for her political life”, Goyder added.

"It's easy for me to say from an armchair but I question if she is looking after herself."

Smiles apart from Europe

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte looked pleased to meet with the Theresa May on Tuesday. Credit: AP

On Tuesday the prime minister touched down in Europe to meet with her European counterparts, giving us a taster of what the mood is like in Brussels.

It was all smiles for the camera and three kisses on the cheek from Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

But Goyder said the difference in the two leaders was stark, saying: "His was a very broad smile, hers was not as easy.”

Dealing with a troubled exit strategy

The Credit: AP

Mrs May continued to have an uneasy week as a mishap with her car door prevented her from meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"It must have thrown her; her face was embarrassed, and it must have been a horrible moment,” said Goyder.

The moment was quickly resolved with Mrs Merkel’s light-hearted comment about the unpleasant weather diffusing the awkwardness.

But the brief blooper “speaks of a lack of preparation” and Goyder recommends in future a simple step to maintain prime ministerial poise: check the child lock is enabled.

A similar rival

Body language expert Caroline Goyder believes Jeremy Corbyn reads similarly to Theresa May. Credit: House of Commons/PA

Meanwhile, opposition leader Corbyn should have “stepped up” by now in the eyes of the voice and body language expert.

Despite their differing political views Goyder thinks the Labour leader reads similarly to Mrs May.

She said: "I don't think his body language is much better since he's been given a golden chalice."

Although he is not in the hot seat to negotiate the Brexit deal, Goyder suggested that Mr Corbyn also projects qualities of a someone who lacking "physical confidence", even if he is a "good speaker".

So who in the Commons does display physical strength?

Goyder points to Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who, she says, “comes across with strength and authority”.

However, she believes when it comes to strong body language: “I can't currently think of anyone manifesting leader-like power, I don't hear or see any vision."

Three changes Mrs May can adopt

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said no to renegotiation but Theresa May still plans to discuss her deal with EU members. Credit: AP

Whatever the outcome of the confidence vote in the Commons, Goyder advises the prime minister makes three changes before she heads back to Europe.

"Pulling herself to her full height, finding five minutes to be relaxed and ready and carrying herself to take yourself beyond the current role,” she said.

And if anyone wants to take the reins over renegotiation or a possible no-deal Brexit they require some much needed enthusiasm.

She advised anyone seeking to lead: "The key to leadership is energy and direction."

So has Mrs May retained it in her time of crisis? Goyder is not convinced.

"I think her body language doesn't show that, she shows her lack of confidence and shows her lack of direction," she said.

Caroline Goyder is a voice and body language expert. Credit: Caroline Goyder

Caroline Goyder is a voice and body language expert. She is the author of Gravitas and founder of gravitasmethod.com. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of ITV News