IN her speech in Downing Street, Theresa May spoke proudly of being the second female Prime Minister and said she certainly would not be the last. But will she be the last Conservative PM brought down by the issue of the European Union? It seems unlikely. For the last 30 years and more, Conservative leaders have tried to heal the Tory wounds over Europe only for the poison to overwhelm them and so it was with Mrs May. Her end was history repeating with grim inevitability.

The problem for her successor is that most of the factors that brought down Mrs May are still in place. The Tory party is divided. There is no majority in the House of Commons for any kind of Brexit. And while it seems probable that the next leader of the Conservative party will be a hard Brexiter who thinks they can get a new deal with the EU, he or she is likely to have just as much trouble trying to attract the support of Remain Conservatives as Mrs May had with the European Research Group and other hardline Brexiters. The European Union has also already indicated that the withdrawal agreement negotiated with Mrs May will not be reopened.

In her speech, Mrs May said, quite rightly, that the only way forward from here was compromise although many will think it a bit rich coming from her. The greatest art of leadership is knowing when to stay firm and when to reach a consensus and Mrs May did not appear to understand the difference. At the beginning of her premiership, she laid down her notorious red lines and only opened serious attempts at compromise with Labour when it was far too late and it is this failure of leadership more than any other that has taken us to this point. Mrs May quoted the words of Sir Nicholas Winton, the humanitarian who saved hundreds of children through the Kindertransport: “never forget that compromise is not a dirty word.” If only she had acted on his words two years ago.

The great concern, of course, is that the new PM will be interested less in compromise than an ideologically pure but economically disastrous no-deal Brexit – indeed, some of the potential candidates have espoused the so-called benefits of leaving the EU without a deal. The bad news is that the political logistics also point this way: the new Brexiter PM will not go for a general election because they will lose it – the results of the European elections are likely to demonstrate just how far support for the Tories has fallen – and they will not go for a second referendum because they will lose that too, which narrows the options towards a no-deal.

To her credit, Mrs May eventually ruled out no-deal, having once said that “no deal was better than a bad deal”, but in her resignation speech she said she regretted not having delivered Brexit. She also made an attempt to write the first sentence of her legacy when she said her government had, among other things, tackled the deficit, climate change and brought a voice to the voiceless. However, the reality is the domestic agenda of the government was subsumed by Brexit and Mrs May will be remembered as the Brexit PM who did not deliver Brexit.

Does she deserve sympathy? No one could doubt the sincerity of her emotions at the end of her speech but a sincere desire to be Prime Minister does not necessarily mean you will be any good at it. Two years ago, Mrs May called a general election that wiped out her majority and seemed to demonstrate a lack of the political sixth sense that every successful PM needs. In the job itself, she also seemed to lack some of the key skills that are required in a time of crisis – most importantly, knowing when to compromise.

Some said that when Mrs May was ploughing on regardless, we should admire her stoicism but was it stoicism or pig-headedness? And what has it left us with? The prospect of a hardline Brexiter Prime Minister. A political system under unprecedented strain. Slow but sure economic damage without a deal. And, almost certainly,more constitutional chaos and uncertainty.