How the top job ages leaders

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Theresa May’s departure will finally end one of the most tempestuous premierships in recent times.

In Downing Street, pastoral care has never been top of the agenda - but we think it probably should be.

For when we compared before and after shots for the last three Tory Prime Ministers, the strains of the job are clear to see on their faces...

Poor Theresa May.

Say what you like about her - and everyone does - but she’s had one of the roughest rides since Chamberlain. The so-called ‘Maybot’ never exactly exuded joie de vivre, but recent pictures show a broken woman at the end of a long and punishing road. Look no further than her speech at 2017’s Conservative conference - a dreadful cough, falling letters and a Boris-themed prankster - long held up by headline writers as the symbolic moment of her premiership.

If the polls are anything to go by, you’re probably not very sympathetic, but that kind of luck is normally reserved for the prophet Job.

When David Cameron was elected at the age of 43, he was a toddler in Prime Ministerial terms. Shades of Tony Blair surrounded the fresh-faced Conservative, whose youth and energy had re-invigorated a Tory party not generally known for either.

Come 2016, he was still in his 40s but looked really, really tired - and that cherubic glow was gone. But the strain he faced as PM could have been so much worse.

“Why should I do all the hard s*** for someone else, just to hand it over to them on a plate?” he reportedly told aides, after delivering his resignation a few hours after Britain voted to leave Europe .

Already rocking the grey when he became PM in 1990, John Major’s tenure saw a simple case of accelerated ageing. An old-looking 47-year-old became a very old-looking 54-year-old, as Major was harried and harassed by ‘the b*****ds’ of his own party (his words, not mine).

Perhaps the strangest thing is that today, more than two decades later, he still looks pretty much the same - it’s as if leaving office has halted the ageing process.