Theresa May is sitting on her sofa telling you it’s all going to be fine – it’s time to start panicking

There is no plan, nothing’s happening, nothing’s changing, but whatever you do, don’t panic

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Monday 08 April 2019 18:32
Comments
'People have been asking me what on earth's happening with Brexit?' Theresa May gives an update

Don’t panic. Definitely don’t panic. Why would you want to panic? It’s only Theresa May, sitting very casually on her sofa, chillaxing in her oak-panelled living room in front of her oil paintings, shooting the breeze with you, me and Joe Public about the latest Brexit lols.

Awww, look at the wobbly camera, the low production values, the little chuckle as the actual prime minister recalls the sheer number of times the pesky House of Commons has dang well voted down her Brexit deal. This was top viral content, a Zoella for the home counties Rotary Club generation.

You, me, we all know that neither me nor anyone else has got a clue what’s going to happen even within the next 10 minutes, but look at my sofa! I’m just like you!

Who knows, frankly, what she was thinking. Does she think anything anymore? In the realm of “if you have to say it” politics, it stands right up there with that Zimbabwean army general turning up on state TV to say that there absolutely, definitely hadn’t been a military coup.

Perhaps she was simply preparing for life beyond Downing Street. If Shakespeare, the Bible and The Beautiful South are to be believed, life has a tendency to go back to the start. So why shouldn’t a former prime minister just sit in her house, uploading webcam videos of herself, giving her opinions on the latest issues of the day. A Brexit unboxing video, with no Brexit, and no box.

It is quite the mark of exactly where Theresa May now is that not one but two bits of Theresa May video content went viral at the weekend, one her mad fireside chat, the other the US comedy show Saturday Night Live tearing into her, and it should be the latter from which she should emerge with more dignity.

Saturday Night Live was actually quite nice about her. As she jumps inadvertently into 4ft puddles, accidentally vaporises a beautiful butterfly with just a furtive glance, and descends into erotic dreams about Winston Churchill, she is, the show makes clear, the only person actually trying to sort out Brexit.

Perhaps, with a little more distance from the narrative, as they say, Theresa May is a sympathetic character. The reluctant pilot of a kamikaze plane, whose passengers will only be placated by their own death, but who she knows will still blame her and her party in the afterlife, and seek retribution at the ballot box.

Perhaps with a little more distance, things look more normal. You have to have your nose pressed pretty close to the glass to appreciate the full wonder of things like the prime minister’s actual spokesperson, asked a question on the ongoing negotiations with Labour, replying with the words, “I point you in the direction of what Rebecca Long-Bailey said at the weekend.” Rebecca Long-Bailey, whose elevation to high rank within the Labour Party owes everything to not even the first but the second wave of mass shadow cabinet resignations, now speaks for the prime minister.

All day on Monday, we were led to believe a breakthrough with Labour was imminent. That had been the point of the fireside chat. A real, meaningful concrete offer. A customs union, essentially. Something that the House of Commons might actually vote for. Late in the afternoon, we were instead told to expect no more than an outline for the “next stage of talks” between the parties. The talks, just to repeat, only have a matter of days to amount to something.

Still, things come round again. She now heads off to Paris and Berlin before the emergency Brussels summit on Wednesday. She made this identical trip almost exactly 1,000 days ago, when she first became prime minister. All she was told then, by Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, was that there would be no negotiating at all until she had triggered Article 50.

She did as she was told and everything fell apart. Now, it may very well be that Hollande’s successor, Emmanuel Macron, will sling her and us out of the EU on Wednesday against our wishes.

If he does so, or indeed even if he doesn’t, her final act could be imminent. No-deal Brexit or a long extension are the only options. Both summon forth the implacable passengers to the cockpit.

And then it’s a long appointment with the sofa. Don’t worry. Everything’s fine.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in