Political Editor Adrian Masters reflects on his memories of Prime Minister Theresa May

Theresa May has been analysed by armchair psychologists to an extraordinary degree Credit: PA

I suppose having your character scrutinised comes with the job of being Prime Minister but it does seem Theresa May has been analysed by armchair psychologists to an extraordinary degree.

I’m certainly not qualified to add to that but I can tell you what she was like on the occasions I met her and what others have told me about their encounters.

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Theresa May dancing on stage at the Conservative Party conference Credit: ITV Wales

It’s certainly true she could be a little awkward. I’ve been at media receptions where that’s been clear. But then most people would find those sort of events awkward.

The moments before an interview are always tense anyway and attempts at small-talk can sometimes fall flat. But when we were setting up to film an interview at the Welsh Conservative conference in Llangollen recently, she chatted easily about her holidays in Dolgellau and pointed out the hills which she said she’d been looking at wistfully on this visit.

When I came to compile my report for Wales at Six looking back at her times in Wales, it became apparent that she’s been here a lot in the last three years. I haven’t kept count, but I think it may have been more times than any other Prime Minister in recent memory.

When she came to Swansea to sign the Swansea Bay City Deal, I filled a similarly awkward moment with a silly remark about how every time that term was used I thought about the Bay City Rollers. To my surprise she laughed, put her hand on my arm and said, ‘I’ve been saying the same thing!’

Theresa May with former First Minister Carwyn Jones Credit: PA

However, during the 2018 Conservative conference in Birmingham she showed some of that famous inflexibility. The newly-elected Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies had used his debut conference speech to call for a snap Assembly election when whoever was to succeed Carwyn Jones took over the job of First Minister. An obvious thing to raise with her and which presumably had the full support of her team.

Imagine my surprise when she said the last thing anyone would want was a snap election. I guessed she was thinking about a UK General election and so clarified I meant Assembly election. She stuck to her refusal. I put it to her that seemed like a rebuke to a very new leader. She denied that but continued to say there should be no snap elections of any kind.

It was a cock-up rather than conspiracy, government sources later told me. She simply hadn’t been briefed properly about it. Whatever the reason it caused an unnecessary problem for Paul Davies and a good story for me.

Other politicians from different parties have told me about how they found her scrupulously polite but also found it quite difficult to get beyond her reserve.

‘'In person, she’s actually much warmer than you’d expect. Like a kind of aunt’' said one opposition figure who’s met her on often difficult occasions. '‘But she still lacked political astuteness and always seemed to rely on others in the room for sharp elbows or quick wit.’'

One senior Tory described to me a meeting with her at the Home Office.

'‘All I can say,’' they told me, '‘is that from a social point of view it was the most awkward meeting I ever had.’'

I’ve also been told that she was over-reliant on the wrong people who led her ‘'up the wrong street.’'

In one tense and sensitive meeting near the beginning of her time as Prime Minister, those who were there described how the PM’s then-adviser, Fiona Hill, took complete charge of the discussion and called all the shots. Not all awkward meetings stayed awkward though.

Guto Bebb spoke of how one difficult meeting turned more light-hearted Credit: ITV Wales

Guto Bebb, who resigned from her government over her handling of Brexit told me how one difficult meeting turned more light-hearted when he raised an April Fool news story with her after conversation ran out.

Before the third ‘meaningful vote’ I was in her office explaining why I could not support her. Having been allocated ten minutes I decided it would be rude to leave and asked her whether it was true that she had bought a house in the Dolgellau area citing a local councillor as my source. She laughed and said; "Do they really think that I've had the time to go house hunting since Christmas?"

– Guto Bebb MP

If she wants to look for a holiday home in Dolgellau, she’ll have plenty of time now.