Just another manic Monday.
Little more than a day after receiving a text from Andrea Leadsom saying: “Soz I sed u wld b rubbish leedr cos u is not a mum,” Theresa May walked into a meeting of the 1922 Committee in Portcullis House to be anointed as the next prime minister. Ten minutes later she left to a standing ovation from Conservative MPs trying to outcompete one another in expressions of undying devotion. Boris who? Michael who? Andrea who?
If Theresa looked a little non-plussed when she appeared with her husband and inner circle of loyal MPs outside St Stephen’s Gate, she wasn’t the only one. Even by recent standards this was all a bit quick. Only the Conservatives can combine the brutality of a Stalinist purge with the low comedy of a Carry On film. It had trusted the country to reach the right decision in the referendum campaign and it wasn’t going to make the same mistake again by giving the untamed fringes of the Tory party a say.
“Honoured and humbled,” she mumbled. “Brexit means Brexit.” Though not necessarily, if the man by her side, Chris Grayling, was to become minister for Brexit. Grayling has yet to find a ministerial job he can’t do slowly and badly. Having said the bare minimum, Theresa scarpered off home to wonder how a day that had started off with her launching her leadership campaign in Birmingham had ended with her landing the top job. Seldom had so much been achieved in British politics by saying and doing so little.
The first sign that Westminster had accidentally overdosed on speed yet again was when the net curtains twitched at Andrea Leadsom’s leadership campaign headquarters in Westminster shortly after midday. Moments later Steve Baker, Owen Paterson, Iain Duncan Smith and Tim Loughton trooped out the front door to form a Dad’s Army-esque Praetorian guard on the doorstep. Then came Andrea.
The wider Andrea’s smile became, the more furious IDS looked. Quantity theory in action. “I have a statement which is mine which I wish to read out,” Andrea smiled. IDS lowered his eyes. If anyone said a word out of place, the pavement was going to get it. Forget the velvet glove of compassion. There was more than one career here that was about to be shot down in flames.
“It has only just come to my attention I have the support of just 25% of Conservative MPs,” she continued, forcing the words through the fixed smile, “and that, in these uncertain times, the country doesn’t need a nine-week leadership campaign.
“I’ve also taken a look at the people around me and decided most of them are an electoral liability. So I have decided to withdraw my name from the contest and let Theresa May be prime minister. Sorry to have made such a nuisance of myself. I’m now going to lie down in a dark room for several years. Thank you for coming.”
Andrea declined to take any questions, so we never did get to find out how it had taken her four days to work that most of own MPs thought she was far too hopeless to be leader, when everyone else had done the sums in a matter of seconds. Percentages can’t have been her strong point when she was working in the Barclays call centre.
It was left to Andrea’s cracked troops to pick up the pieces. Most chose to jump ship at the earliest opportunity. “Andrea has been absolutely brilliant but I’ve always secretly thought Theresa was the right man, sorry woman, for the job, party must unite blah blah and if you’re recording this then I am definitely interested in any jobs that might be going.”
Only Loughton remained faithful to the Belle Dame sans so much as a merci. “There have been dark forces at work,” he muttered. He meant journalists accurately reporting answers freely offered, but might just as well have been referring to the Tory party itself.
“Another Brexiter leaves the scene of the crime,” yelled a passerby who had just happened to catch the tail end of Leadsom’s speech. He had a point. One by one, the prime architects of the Vote Leave campaign had managed to stab one another in the back, front and sides and now the last one standing had thrown herself on to the funeral pyre.
Back at No 10, David Cameron was on the phone to his therapist trying to deal with his self-destructive issues when he heard that Theresa was going to be moving in a great deal earlier than anticipated. “Bugger it,” he yelled. It just wasn’t fair. Now he wouldn’t get to fly in his brand-new Dave Force One plane to Africa. Now he’d miss his last G20. Now he’d have to find somewhere to rent as he’d given his tenants notice to leave in September. The way the day was going, George would forget to bring back a suitcase full of dollars from New York.
“I’m off on Wednesday afternoon,” he announced grumpily to the single camera parked outside the Downing Street door. “Good luck to the lot of you.” Dave took a couple of deep breaths, trying to calm himself down as he marched back inside. It was no good. He was still furious. Perhaps humming might help. The theme to the West Wing somehow felt appropriate. Then for the removals. And cut.
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