SO it’s finally happened. After clinging on by her fingertips for many months, despite opposition and her own backbenchers continually stamping on them, she has finally, tearfully, been forced to let go.

Whatever one’s view of Mrs May and her politics, in particular her attempts to get a deal over Brexit, it was difficult not to have had a shred of human sympathy watching her as she almost burst into tears at the end of her speech outside Downing Street.

Already the race is under way to succeed her and no doubt many words will be written over the next few weeks about who that person should be. But now is the time to look back and try to assess Mrs May’s legacy and ask how history will view her.

It’s worth recalling that Mrs May won the Tory leadership without having her qualities tested in an election – she was the last person left standing after Boris Johnson and Michael Gove stabbed each other in the back and front, and Andrea Leadsom stepped down after some ill-chosen remarks about Mrs May’s childlessness.

When Mrs May entered Downing Street, she talked about wanting a fairer, kinder Britain, but then did little to achieve this, allowing the harsh austerity imposed under Cameron and Osborne to continue to ravage our social services, education, police and so on.

Then, despite inheriting a parliamentary majority, she made the disastrous decision to call a snap election, despite saying three times that she would not. She then fought the worst campaign of any party leader in living memory, endlessly repeating the same soundbites day after day – it was not for nothing that she was nicknamed the Maybot.

She lost her majority and went into a potentially disastrous pact with the hard-line Democratic Unionist Party who have proved to be fair-weather friends.

But it was during the Brexit negotiations that Mrs May demonstrated her biggest failing. For despite claiming that her latest attempt to get her Withdrawal Bill through the Commons showed that she was willing to compromise, it was too little too late.

Could this all have been avoided? Was there a path through the Brexit jungle that Mrs May failed to find? I think there was and Mrs May’s failure to find it reflected her failings as a political leader. Faced with the biggest decision the UK has confronted since the Second World War, Mrs May should have taken the path taken by her hero Winston Churchill. When he came to office in similar circumstances - a fellow Tory leader had been ousted as a result of external events - Churchill immediately turned to the Leader of the Opposition and formed a national government.

I am not arguing that that specific solution would have been right, but I do believe that had she reached out to leaders of the other parties in Parliament right at the start of the negotiations and involved them from the beginning, there might well have been a different outcome.

The reason why she didn’t was because she lacked the vision to put country before party, and when, a few weeks ago, it became clear that opening talks with the Labour Party to try and ensure that sufficient Labour MPs voted with the Government to outweigh her own hard line Brexiteers, the plan failed.

However, because of her lack of vision, or her stubbornness, or both, nothing was achieved during the weeks of talking. Mrs May brought nothing new to the table that would have enabled the Corbyn team to sign up to her deal.

When she did finally make her ‘bold’ new offer, it was neither bold nor new. The two elements designed to attract Labour were both smoke and mirrors. She offered “a customs arrangement” which would have temporarily solved the Irish border issue, but it was precisely that, temporary only. And she offered a vote on a second referendum but immediately declared that she would not be supporting it. In other words, no concessions at all. But because she appeared to be making concessions she ensured that what support she had on the Conservative benches would drain away within hours of her announcement.

So Mrs May departs the scene – the fourth Conservative Prime Minister in a row to be brought down by Europe. She could look back and blame David Cameron, as many do, for getting us into this mess in the first place. But she should begin by looking at her own failings – her lack of vision, her stubbornness and ultimately her lack of political guile – in order to understand why her premiership has ended in such a lamentable way.

Ivor Gaber is Professor of Political Journalism at the University of Sussex and a former political correspondent at Westminster