Theresa May pokes fun at successors but praises Rishi Sunak - and issues warning over populism in politics

Former prime minister Theresa May has poked fun at her successors in Number 10, while issuing a warning to them to avoid delving into populist politics.

Giving a speech to reporters at an event in parliament, she spoke about her recent book tour, joking it was interesting to see how rival political titles would be categorised in bookshops.

"Liz Truss's 10 Years To Save The West?" she quipped. "Well, given Liz's reputation and record, maybe it should be 10 days to save Britain.

"That one probably goes under sci-fi and fantasy."

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And how about Boris Johnson's upcoming memoir? "That will undoubtedly be shelved under 'current affairs'," she joked.

'Answers in politics are not easy'

But making a more serious point, Mrs May - who is standing down as an MP at the next election - said all those politicians who followed her needed to be aware of the "potential threat from within Western democracies" - namely populism.

"We have seen the rise of populist politicians around the world and populism seeks to divide," she said.

"It seeks to divide our societies and it seeks to provide easy answers - and actually the answers in politics and government are not easy.

"And people will feel even more let down if they grasp for that easy answer which is being provided by that populist politician."

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'Need for politicians to instil sense of service'

Asked if any of her successors had "fallen into that trap" of becoming populists already, Mrs May joked: "Now let's see, how many successors have I had?"

But she added: "There is an element of politics today... that comes into the populism issue, which is a sort of expectation of celebrity.

"And I think certainly you could say some of my successors have fallen more into that category of celebrity than I did in my time in Number 10.

"But I think there is a real need for us as politicians to instil that sense of service and show it through our service to our constituencies, fundamentally."

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'Bringing stability is critical'

The current prime minister avoided a roasting from his predecessor, however, with Mrs May saying Rishi Sunak had brought "stability" to the role - and could even win the next election.

"Let's face it," she said. "[Voters] saw quite a bit of change under us and things happening, and they wanted some stability, and I think Rishi has brought that stability.

"He is having success in relation to the economy, as we have seen from GDP and inflation and hopefully interest rates in the summer, and bringing that stability is critical - being willing to say 'actually I am here to get the job done'."