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The Friday Speed Read
At the end of an extraordinary week our usual news roundup column has been replaced by an exclusive extract from the diary of the woman in the eye of the Brexit storm: TM the PM herself. A diary that we must for legal reasons point out is entirely fictional.
The Diary of TM the (still) PM
9th – 14th of December 2018
Sunday. 10.48pm. Downing Street.
Philip put the bins out early tonight. Dinner was tense and I think he wanted the excuse to get some air. That said, 45 minutes seems a bit much even though it was a recycling week and he had double the boxes to move. I asked him if he was alright and didn’t answer. We put on the “I’m a Celebrity” final (I’m more of a Strictly girl myself but this wasn’t the night to make a stand) and Philip said that Harry Redknapp was clearly going to win the public vote. I said that it would be Noel Edmonds. Definitely.
There was an awkward pause. Philip asked me if I knew that Edmonds had been knocked out the week before. I replied that just because something’s impossible it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Philip gave me a look and I knew I’d won the argument because we didn’t say much else for the rest of the evening.
Before bed, I had a second sherry rather than a chamomile tea.
Monday 6.35pm. EasyJet from Brussels to Heathrow.
Turns out that Philip was right about the Harry Redknapp thing. His crinkly face was all over the papers this morning. His eyes were singing; the man radiated joy from every pore. I don’t remember what that feels like. I glanced at the other headlines; this was obviously a mistake but I couldn’t help myself. The Mirror’s front page proclaimed the “End of May’s Reign” which seemed needlessly catty; I’ve never claimed to be Queen and I certainly don’t deserve the guillotine. Let them eat Greggs. Let them eat Subway. Let’s get this Brexit thing over with before the sky falls in.
No one thinks I can win the vote tomorrow. The Times said a leadership challenge is inevitable. Philip sent a message to our WhatsApp group (called “Whatever May occur” – there’s just two of us in it) saying that he’d bought some more sherry and that we should probably have a chat tonight when I get in. He added the sad face emoji. I replied with the gold medal. That was the end of the conversation.
Tuesday 11.30am. EasyJet – The Hague to Brussels.
The Sun’s a real rag sometimes. “Brexmas Turkey” was the front page this morning (I still can’t help myself reading the damned papers), adding that I’m “well and truly stuffed”. This is balls for two reasons: one – I am not going anywhere and two, and almost as bad, it’s a rubbish pun. No one says “Xmas Turkey”. It just doesn’t work. Anyway, I’m cancelling the vote. There I said it. It feels better now I have. I’m ready for the flack that’s coming my way. It’s going to get very bleak this next 24 hours but bleak seems to be my life these days. I’ll own the bleak.
One moment of joy. Just before I cancelled the vote, I sent Gove out to the media to tell them categorically that the vote was going ahead. That’s going to keep me smiling for the rest of the day.
Tuesday 11.58pm. Downing Street.
Well yeah. That was a rough day. Got sod all again from Merkel (aside from her recipe for spiced Christmas biscuits which, to be fair, are delicious) and Kunessberg from the telly says there’s definitely going to be a leadership election. And although she’s irritating she’s rarely wrong. Fine. Bring it on.
But I can’t sleep. Brexit doth murder sleep.
(Still laughing about Gove though).
Wednesday 7.24pm Parliament.
Rather enjoyed PMQs today. It all got a bit mad and shouty but that’s how I like it. Mind you, it’s easy to be brilliant when you’re up against Corbyn. It’s like punching a snowman: he just stares blankly back from his coal-black eyes. And then melts. It doesn’t seem to bother him that despite the proportions of the current mess, Labour is still behind in the polls. Switched on the telly in the office wanting to catch Pointless but instead there was Jacob Rees-Mogg calling for my head. But he doesn’t scare me; knowing long words doesn’t make you clever, it just makes you insufferable as a Scrabble opponent. Philip calls him Jacob Rees-Smugg and I look forward to making him look considerably less so at 9.00pm tonight.
The no-confidence vote is underway. I’m watching Pointless on iPlayer. I’m tired. But I’m wired and I’m punchy. I’m going to win this thing.
Wednesday 9.25pm Downing Street.
In. Your. Face. Rees. Mogg. In. Your. Pointy. 19th Century. Dead-eyed. Face.
Thursday 7.30am Ryanair – Heathrow to Brussels
I hate the press. There. I’ve said it. I won last night. I won fairly and I won well. And what hand am I dealt by the Fourth Estate in their first editions? “It’s Lame Duck for Christmas”; “Keep May and Carry on” (which, again, doesn’t work as a pun); “When will she Leave?” and “Time to call it a May”.
I’m sorry, “Time to call it a May”. That’s the best we can do? We’re on the brink of crashing out of the EU with no deal, forced to fend for ourselves in the shark-infested waters of international trade and the best we can do is “Time to call it a May”.
Not looking forward to today. They’re not going to shift on the backstop. But if I can just get to dinner and if I hold off on the wine when they all get stuck in then I might get something. Junker’s a different man a couple of glasses in so I’m not without hope.
Philip just sent me a message on the Whatsapp wondering if my “joint interpretive instrument” might need a bit of a tune. I think he’s trying to be funny.
Friday. 9pm. Downing Street.
Week over. Thank heavens.
I love this country. I think we’re a pretty decent bunch of people. We’re funny. We’re kind. We’re smart. We’ve done great things. Remember the Olympics? That was ace. Everyone was happy. I don’t think this is just the sherry talking; I remember it. Everyone was happy.
That’s why I’m still here. That’s what I’m fighting for. That’s why this “lame duck” is still limping on. Because I believe with all my heart that we’re better than what we’ve become.
The Speed Read will return with its annual (appropriately enough) review of the year in the middle of next week. Tune in for that but in the meantime enjoy your weekend.