Smiling wax figure of Theresa May belies prime minister's torment

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May gained a wax doppelganger on Wednesday that projected an air of strength and permanence sorely lacking in her crisis-prone government.

The wax figure of May, stepping out of Number 10 Downing Street in a red power suit and leopardskin kitten-heeled shoes, was unveiled by Madame Tussauds, a waxworks museum that is one of London’s top tourist attractions.

The real May, meanwhile, was battling multiple crises at once, with several of her cabinet ministers embroiled in scandals, open strife in her party over how to deliver Brexit and persistent debate about her suitability for the job.

“Whilst her policies may be questioned we can guarantee our wax figure of the prime minister is most definitely strong and stable,” said Edward Fuller, general manager of Madame Tussauds, poking fun at an election campaign slogan that backfired on May.

Presenting herself as pillar of “strong and stable leadership”, May called a snap election in June expecting to win by a hefty margin, but her campaign failed to inspire the voters and she instead lost her parliamentary majority.

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Since then, her divided government has lurched from one crisis to another, with May’s humiliation culminating in a speech at her party conference during which a prankster joined her on stage and letters fell off a slogan behind her.

There was none of that sense of chaos and drift in the scene presented by Madame Tussauds, which shows a smiling May holding a smart black folder and stepping forward from the famous black door of her Downing Street office.

The red suit worn by the wax figure is the same as the one donned by May for a visit to the White House during which she held hands with U.S. President Donald Trump -- one of the most widely published images of her term as prime minister.

The real May also wore the red suit on election night in June, an unhappy occasion that saw her appear on stage to acknowledge victory in her local electoral district even as the scale of the debacle on the national scale was becoming clear.

The wax May will now reside at the museum in close proximity to the likenesses of other world leaders including Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Reporting by Estelle Shirbon