I really honestly do not miss David Cameron at all; but I confess I miss taking the piss out of him. He was such a gift – a posh boy desperately trying not to be a posh boy and failing miserably, albeit hilariously. Blair might have looked like the archetypal trendy vicar twit when armed with his guitar, but it was impossible to doubt his deluded sincerity in genuinely believing it made him ‘cool’. By contrast, whenever Dave had a crack at playing the pleb, whether pretending to enjoy a pasty or deciding his favourite football team wore claret-and-blue (West Ham or Aston Villa?), he so was clearly chronically uncomfortable that watching him squirm was comedy gold.
Yes, there’s still Boris to send up, but Boris has cleverly created a character in which it appears he’s already sending himself up long before you get the chance to do likewise. The Foreign Secretary took the joke toff route from day one and has got away with it because being Bertie Wooster is a canny strategy; the Proles can suppress their instinctive antagonism towards the upper classes if the aristocracy’s poster boy is a superficially harmless bumbling buffoon who can laugh at himself along with the rest of us.
Which leaves us with the Duchess of Dullsville, Theresa May, the middle-class God-bothering matron of British politics. Of course, those who put her where she is (not the electorate, of course) regarded her as ‘a safe pair of hands’, that Westminster code-word for someone who inspires little more than a shrug of the shoulders and a yawn in a crisis like the one taking place during her swift rise to power. In the panicky, post-Referendum cauldron of last summer, the frightening prospect of an untrustworthy little backstabber like Gove, an unknown nonentity like Leadsom, or bloody Bo-Jo being given the keys to No.10 meant May seemed the only sensible option. Her talent for provoking indifference proved to be her secret weapon as she sneaked in on the inside and slipped past the finishing post.
Ironically, May’s invisibility during the Referendum campaign and her ‘don’t quote me on that’ caution when it came to publicly supporting the Remain camp – a stance surpassed only by Jeremy Corbyn’s own dynamic role in proceedings – has resulted in the responsibility for extracting the UK from the EU matrix falling on her shoulders rather than a prominent Brexiteer like Gove. It’s no wonder the most fervent Europhobes in the Conservative Party have frequently expressed doubts as to the strength of her commitment to the cause. Europe has been the single most divisive issue in Tory circles for forty years, yet overseeing the far-from simplistic process is not in the hands of someone who has decried the European Union throughout her career but someone whose dedication to the task has largely been limited to saying ‘Brexit means Brexit’ a lot since she became PM.
However, this is the week, or should I say the week, when Theresa May switches from Mrs Bouquet to Boudicca; yup, it’s all about to get exciting! The language used to describe ‘the triggering’ of Article 50 is evidently intended to add some Ian Fleming-penned thrills and spills to what is essentially a dull diplomatic procedure, as though Article 50 is a huge missile secretly nestled beneath the rim of a dormant volcano. Agent 006½ has bravely battled her way through an army of EU bureaucrats guarding said missile and now stands poised to launch it at the dark heart of Brussels by triggering the mechanism that has kept it immobile since 1975. Whatever you do, don’t miss this heart-stopping, page-turning adventure when it’s serialised in this week’s Daily Mail!
The problem with this particular Bond movie – ‘From Maidenhead with Love’ or ’Doctor Don’t-Know’ – is that it threatens to be the longest-running episode in the entire series, lasting so long that even the most diehard Bond fan won’t sit through the credits for the ‘James Bond will return in…’ pointer to the next adventure at the end. Naturally, none of this boring detail accompanied the straightforward Remain/Leave option on the ballot paper last June, though probably because nobody behind the decision to stage the EU Referendum planned for the possibility of a Leave vote, something David Davis virtually confirmed a couple of weeks ago; and he’s one of the three men entrusted to deal with it.
Wherever one stands re this issue – Union Jack waistcoat-wearing Euro-sceptic or placard-waving Remoaner – the decision of the majority, for good or ill, was final and now has to be enacted. That the enacting of this decision has left the Government floundering in unfamiliar waters is testament to their woeful lack of preparation and hardly fills one with confidence over their ability to deliver the best outcome for the country. Not that Theresa May appears unduly concerned. She’s keeping calm and carrying on.
The PM is obviously doing her best to project positivity, but her assertion that Brexit will make the UK a more united nation flies in the face of such basic evidence to the contrary that her public opinion borders on delusional. Britain right now is probably more divided on social, economic, racial, religious and nationalist grounds than it has been at any time since the early years of Thatcher’s reign; the seeds for this division were planted long ago, but the idea that two long drawn-out years exiting the EU will somehow serve as a tonic for the nation’s ills is laughable. It may well make those outside of London, Scotland and Northern Ireland happy, but unless all three shut up and put up, the European Union isn’t the only union we’ll be waving bye-bye to en route to the Promised Land of 2019.
© The Editor