A petty, mean Prime Minister could come unstuck in Brussels

Michael Heseltine joined the Conservative Party five years before Theresa May was born. As she entered Parliament, he was ending a term as Deputy Prime Minister. But she still didn't think it was worth meeting him before dismissing him from his role as a government adviser. 

Lord Heseltine's crime was to hold a contrary opinion to the Prime Minister. He had supported the idea that Parliament should be given some kind of meaningful say in the outcome of Brexit negotiations.  

Mrs May has made it very clear where she stands on democratic accountability -- where Brexit is concerned she is firmly against it. 

In so clumsily sacking a Tory grandee, in choosing another act of poisoned pettiness, the Prime Minister again displays an authoritarian streak that could harm the whole country in the coming years. 

Already, Mrs May has a pattern of vindictive, unnecessarily cruel behaviour to those who have the temerity to disagree with her. George Osborne wasn't just sacked as Chancellor, he was humiliated. Nicky Morgan was ostracised for talking about the Prime Minister's trousers. Now, Michael Heseltine's been booted out by someone who he says never even bothered to meet him.

Other prime ministers could at least be reasoned with. Ministers like Ken Clarke relate stories of fierce arguments with Margaret Thatcher, but point to occasions when, convinced to reconsider, she would publicly support those with whom she'd disagreed in private. 

Theresa May appears to think once about each issue, after which her opinion is fixed. Any dissenting or challenging view is treason that must be stamped on. 

Imagine this attitude in those Brexit talks. How will the EU's remaining 27 members react to being lectured or frozen out? The voters might (at the moment) like the idea of a tough leader, but if that prompts a weaker Brexit deal their enthusiasm may fade. 

Of course, we don't need to worry, because our government is convinced our departure from the EU is going to be a resounding success. That, presumably, is why the Chancellor is hanging on to every penny of increased tax revenue, and scrabbling around for more. Not so much saving for a rainy day as an unending monsoon. Almost as if there's a pessimistic streak through the heart of Government. 

If there is, it's probably best kept away from the Prime Minister. She's unlikely to react well.