The House of Commons had absolutely nothing new to say, and six more pointless months to say it

The EU has staged an intervention on Britain, but here was the House of Commons, checking out of the clinic and heading straight back to its dealer

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Thursday 11 April 2019 17:16 BST
Theresa May goes to war with DUP's Sammy Wilson

It’s not yet 24 hours since the European Union staged an intervention on its good friend, Britain and already it’s checked itself out of the clinic and is in the car, driving straight to its dealer’s house.

“Don’t waste this time,” was Donald Tusk’s advice, handed out in the small hours of Thursday morning as he granted the United Kingdom six more months to get its life back together.

And yet, here they all were, back in the House of Commons in full Renton from Trainspotting mode, swallow-diving into the toilet bowl, desperate not to lose out on any slim chance to start getting high again on its own crushing vanity.

So low was the height to which the nation’s parliamentarians reduced themselves that no less a figure than Theresa May towered above them. It was barely 24 hours since she’d been there for Prime Minister’s Questions, and that after trips to Paris and Berlin the day before.

She’d been up all night, waiting for the EU to decide what to do with her, taking questions at three o’clock in the morning, and here she was again, back with the same old abysmal faces, staring down the barrel of three more hours of the same old abysmal questions, and having to rise to dignify it all with the same old abysmal responses.

She told them they would have to “press on at pace to reach an agreement”.

She told them that “reaching an agreement will not be easy, because to be successful it will require both sides to make compromises”.

Yet here was Jeremy Corbyn, warning of the Tories’ “race to the bottom on standards”, as he has done on repeat for the last 24 months and to the benefit of precisely nobody.

There was the DUP’s Nigel Dodds, telling Theresa May to use the threat of no deal “to seek concessions to the backstop”.

And there was Hilary Benn and Anna Soubry, demanding the time be used to legislate for a People’s Vote.

There was the SNP’s Ian Blackford, droning on about “the people of Scotland being dragged out the EU against their will”, asking eight questions at once so as to ensure that none stood any risk at all of being answered.

Sammy Wilson of the DUP demanded Theresa May give him “just one example” of anything the EU has demanded to which she has said no.

When you haven’t slept for 48 hours, to still be capable of narrowing your eyes yet further is approaching a medical miracle, but she managed it. “I said no to their demands for a Northern Ireland-only backstop,” she told him. Wilson at least had the decency to blush, and from his customary starting point of deep purple briefly made history as Northern Ireland’s first black MP.

She told them all to go and have a holiday, and come back and find a way out of the mess. She is rumoured to be planning a little walking trip herself.

But for now, not the tiniest glimmer of light emerged, not a sliver of hope. Just more of the same, on and endlessly on. Parliament won’t vote for no deal. It won’t pass the withdrawal agreement and the EU won’t reopen it. Wake me up when October ends. Then put me back to sleep again.

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