Philip May spearheaded the push for her survival when she faced a vote of no confidence last week, in an effort dubbed ‘Operation Save Theresa’. After Sir Graham Brady told Mrs May on Tuesday evening that the threshold of 48 letters for a confidence vote had been reached, her husband sprung into action, taking on an unofficial role of adviser to the Prime Minister. As the premier vowed publicly to fight the vote “with everything I’ve got”, behind the scenes Mr May held crisis meetings at Number 10, arguing that it would be best to “go fast” rather than drag out the vote allowing for her opponents to organise themselves.
Downing Street officials joked that the Chancellor Philip Hammond is “only the second most powerful Philip in government”, according to The Mail on Sunday.
Known in the political circuit as Mrs May’s “rock” his decision to attend what could have been her last Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday prompted an outpouring of praise.
One parliamentary assistant tweeted “Husband goals” beside a photo of Mr May heading into the public gallery during a rare visit to Parliament.
Mr May told reporters gathered outside that he was “very confident” she would survive the vote later that day.
And the financier’s efforts paid off when his wife of 38 years survived, with 200 Tory MPs voting for her and 117 against.
The couple, who were introduced at a Conservative Party student disco in Oxford by future Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, celebrated after Mrs May was told of the result before it was made public at 9pm on Wednesday.
A bottle of the 62-year-old’s favourite ‘full bodied’ red wine was cracked open and ready-salted crisps laid out before Mrs May and her husband were toasted by staff outside the Cabinet room at Number 10.
As the relieved leader headed for the door of Downing Street where the media awaited her victory speech, she turned back to her 61-year-old husband and quipped “save me some of those crisps”.
After the Prime Minister addressed the nation, further celebrations were had as congratulatory messages from world leaders began to pour in.
But shortly afterwards, the couple retired for the night at 10.30pm following two days of political turmoil.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday last week, the Prime Minister was asked what her husband would consider to be the best Christmas present she has given him down through the years.
She replied: “I think he would look me in the eye and say, ‘You, darling!’”