Theresa May has turned 10 Downing Street into her own private panic room

Welcome to the sunlit uplands. Brexit has now reached the post-metaphor stage. You’ll never see anything like this ever again

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Thursday 23 May 2019 08:45
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Theresa May promises parliamentary vote on second referendum in desperate bid to force through exit plan

Britain. 6pm. Wednesday 22 May 2019. On the night before nationwide European elections that were not meant to happen, Theresa May has turned 10 Downing Street into her own private panic room and Nigel Farage is trapped on a bus in Rochester, surrounded by crowds holding milkshakes.

Or is the other way round? Who even knows? Welcome, everyone, to the sunlit uplands. We have made it to the promised land. We have reached the fully post-metaphor stage of Brexit. It is not “like” anything. Nothing so farcical has occurred before or will again. Not until tomorrow, anyway.

The Conservative Party, and by tragic consequence, the rest of the nation, is now living out a full Ocean’s Eleven remake, a heist movie to somehow bust Theresa May out of office when it simply cannot be done.

Where can you even start? The absolute, absolute state of it. For reasons that can only be known to herself, though probably aren’t, Theresa May is determined to bring forth her Withdrawal Agreement for a fourth humiliating defeat, to make sure she goes out on the lowest of the possible lows.

She has spent the last two months listening to other parties, carefully piecing together the kind of bill that just might carry enough support across the House of Commons to get over the line. And then, less than 24 hours after announcing it, in a feat of quite pyrotechnic uselessness of the kind that she alone is capable, she had turned into a resignation issue.

The specific issue at hand was that, on Tuesday, after many hours of arguing, she persuaded her cabinet to support the new-look bill by convincing them the commitment to a second referendum within it was meaningless. But, in what may be a May first, something that was meant to be meaningless turned out to contain actual meaning. They were furious.

Throughout the afternoon, ministers “requested meetings” with her, to tell her the inevitable in so many words. Her ingenious strategy, in the end, was not to agree to have the meetings. How can you be told to resign, after all, if you don’t allow anyone to come anywhere near you? Quotes from “sources close” to various cabinet ministers began to appear.

One source close to Sajid Javid told Sky News’s Lewis Goodall that Javid had definitely not told the prime minister to resign, but merely wanted to “express his unhappiness with the Withdrawal Bill”. This was definitely not an “orchestrated putsch” but “these things do gather momentum”. Indeed they do, and they gather momentum when someone, like, say Sajid Javid slams his foot as hard as he can on the accelerator.

In any event, she’s not quitting. And they can’t make her quit because they had one go at that in November and they got it hopelessly wrong. And now they’ve tried again to bring down the leader, on the night before an election. It could yet be that she will be forced out on Thursday, an actual election day.

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Even some of the nation’s most senior news broadcasters have admitted that, if a prime minister resigns on an election day, when strict broadcasting rules are in place, they are not completely sure if they will even be allowed to mention it.

Could there be a more fitting end? Well, yes there could actually. Parliament doesn’t sit again now for another 11 days. And who’s in town then? One Donald J Trump. Oh, and by the way, British Steel collapsed this morning.

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