For many, the only surprise was that she lasted as long as she did.
Theresa May was a prime minister defined by resilience.
For some, this ability to endure was a sign of strength and an admirable sense of duty. For others, it reflected a tendency to put her fingers in her ears and plough on regardless.
The daughter of a vicar, Theresa Brasier grew up in a household committed to public service.
She met her husband Philip May at Oxford University – a man she described as “her rock” when she lost both parents by the age of 25.
Elected to the safe seat of Maidenhead in 1997, Mrs May entered Parliament with a wave of Blairites before a decade in the wilderness of opposition.
It wasn’t until 2010, when David Cameron formed a government, that she became the most senior woman in his cabinet.
Defying the department’s reputation for ending careers, Mrs May became the longest serving home secretary for more than 100 years.
Despite her ability to endure, Mrs May was not afraid to make a few enemies.
As party chairman, in 2002, she famously warned the Conservatives were in danger of becoming “the nasty party,” and she accused the Police Federation of “crying wolf” over cuts in a febrile speech at their 2015 conference.
In the House of Commons she was respected rather than liked.
Fiercely guarded by her two advisers Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, she was not a regular in the tearooms and bars of Parliament.
When Ken Clarke described her as a “bloody difficult woman” in an unguarded moment on Sky News, Mrs May wore the description as a badge of honour.
Her lack of a political tribe did not harm her when, after losing the referendum, Mr Cameron stood down as leader and she emerged as the unchallenged replacement – untested by a leadership campaign.
However, in the extraordinary political times to follow, Mrs May would need all the friends she could get.
I conducted three lengthy interviews with Mrs May at three very different points in her premiership.
The first was an hour long sit down in Downing Street the day after her first conference speech in October 2016, for my book, The Women Who Shaped Politics.
At this point she was enjoying a political honeymoon, riding high in the polls.
Relaxed and forthright, she opened up about her life and gave a glimmer of emotion about becoming the second female prime minister.
“What I think is nice is, I’ve had quite a lot of letters from people who have known me over the years, and knew my family, who had said how proud my parents would have been.
“They never saw me even become a Member of Parliament.
“They died when I was quite young so it’s really nice to think …” She paused for a moment, then added, with a slight smile, ‘You know, I think they would have been proud.”
The second time I interviewed her was in January 2017 on Sky News, when the prime minister traditionally sets out their policy agenda for the months ahead.
The interview was a microcosm of her premiership.
Mrs May was keen to push her domestic vision, in particular ending the stigma around mental health, but inevitably she could not escape Brexit.
Even in those early days, it was clear that with immigration as her red line, the UK would leave the single market under her plan, but her guarded style meant she was battling to not give too much away.
The third time I sat down with Mrs May, it was in very different circumstances.
In November 2018, again on my Sky News show Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mrs May was fighting for her political life.
Her majority shattered by an election she did not need to call, her deal was fighting for its life before a rebellious parliament.
Earlier that week she had lost two cabinet ministers – including her second Brexit secretary – over her plan.
But with her back to the wall, she gave one of her strongest interviews to date.
The vicar’s daughter’s sense of duty was in evidence as she argued: “This isn’t about me – it’s actually about what’s right for the people of this country, it’s about what’s in the national interest.
“That’s what drives me… it’s about people’s jobs, it’s about their livelihoods, it’s about the future for their children and grandchildren.”
In the end, it wasn’t enough.
It is perhaps telling that I haven’t interviewed her since.
As her withdrawal deal repeatedly failed to pass the House of Commons and talks with Labour collapsed, this was a prime minister running out of ideas with little else to say.
The cautious prime minister had been reluctant to take risks.
If the back-against-the-wall defence of her plan had started a little earlier – if the pitch rolling had begun back in 2016 or 2017 – things might have been very different.
The woman famous for enduring could endure no longer.
It is time for a new inhabitant of No 10.
Author: Sophy Ridge