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Speed Read: it’s a cut out ‘n’ keep guide to the Tory leadership race!

Every week, The Friday Speed Read assembles its best team and elects to bat against a This Week’s News XI hoping to make enough observation and comment runs to avoid the follow-on, at least until next week. 

Right then, let’s begin this thing with a little bit of crowd-pleasing onomatopoeia because who doesn’t love a bit of that? WOOSH! Now don’t be mistaken, that’s not the sound of John Cleese’s career disappearing over the horizon (in fairness, Cleese isn’t the first to go from cultural legend to unpleasant and reactionary old-fartery – see also William Wordsworth and Steven Patrick Morrissey) but it is of course the sound of this week rushing past at eye-watering speed. It seems only yesterday that we were all flailing limbs and abandoned flip-flops as we raced to bring the barbecue buffet table inside as the bank holiday Gods rained thick cords on our parade. And now, well it’s Friday isn’t it? Happy Friday.

And what a week it’s been if your name is Nigel Farage. Which for most of you, we realise, isn’t the case. And if it is, then maybe this isn’t the vaguely satirical news column for you. Anyway, as had been widely predicted, Farage’s Brexit “party” were the undoubted winners of the European Parliamentary elections, gaining more votes and more seats than any other party. Despite a list of policies that reads 1 – GET AS HARD A BREXIT AS POSSIBLE. 2  – ANN WIDDECOMBE IS A VIABLE AND COHERENT POLITICIAN FOR 2019. 3 – SEE POLICY 1 – the Brexit party succeeded in capturing and making hay with a growing public distrust of traditional political forces and institutions; and you can see why. 17 million people voted to Leave the EU. And we’ve still not left the EU. Add to this mix Farage’s cunning adoption of the Trump / Bannon model of telling people they’ve been “betrayed” and that the media is at best biased and at worst entirely corrupt then, well, as The Sun with typical piquancy put it on its Tuesday front page: Brexsh*t hits the fan.

A few caveats to the above: more people signed the recent “revoke Article 50” petition than voted for the Brexit party; votes for Remain-supporting parties, most notably the rebooted and feeling punchy Liberal Democrats, when added together totaled more than votes for the Brexit party and well, these are strange and unsettling times and in the words of Socrates (or Oasis if you prefer your philosophy from the Britpop rather than the Athenian school), all we know is that we know nothing. What is happening and what happens next is, literally, anyone’s guess.

In the head offices of both the Tories and Labour, however, the button marked “Press Only When Under Existential Threat from a Rising Tide of Both National and Global Populism” (it’s a big button) was pressed in the wake of the European election results, with predictable consequences: most Tories with an eye on the “top” job scrambled over each other to prove just how hard they like their Brexit and 2017’s Jeremy Corbyn, after months of mumbling into his beard when asked about a second referendum, seemed to have a swift change of heart: “Corbyn to back second referendum” – The Mirror.

Now we realise that in the upcoming summer of sport, The Cricket World Cup, The Women’s Football World Cup, Wimbledon . . .er, Other Sporting Things, the Race for the Leadership of the Tory Party is unlikely to get all but a few home-countied hearts-a-fluttering. But we think it would be a massive loss to your personal life if you weren’t to get fully invested in the sheer sweat-soaked and visceral heavyweight sporting battle to replace she-who-can-no-longer-be-named as the leader of our nation. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. And this help is coming in a form that requires its own subheading:


Stephen Quill-Automator MP

MP for the newly-expanded Gently Leaning constituency, Stephen has done sterling work in the Home Office sorting out the fridge cleaning rota and getting rid of that mystery smell that had been lingering by the photocopier since 1989. Likes his Brexit served with parmesan shavings but fails to see the irony of this.

 Sandra “Three Yards” Rejuvenator MP

The two-term incumbent of the North and North East and East Northeastern constituency, Sandra’s future leadership credentials became obvious to everyone with nose during her portrayal of MC Mistoffelees in the Young Conservative Drama Society’s production of Catz! A hip-hop-inspired remix of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beloved original. Not even Sandra knows how she got her nickname.

Michael St. Michael MP

Heir to the Pogo Stick fortune, Michael earned his political spurs with hard graft at the Treasury where he led a committee suggesting new shapes for coins. Michael also once wrote Christmas cards for nearly everyone in the building, although he did forget Jane on the front desk, an error that the bookies feel make his chances of becoming PM slim at best. Michael once kissed a girl and he kind of liked it.

Thackery Sidesaddle-Brexit MP

The first Tory MP to win the Westerling and Chad seat since 1568, Thackery is a staunch Remainer who feels that Britain is much better off in progressive and mutually beneficial political and economic union with its single biggest trading partner. He’s getting mildly irritated by people making fun of his surname. Fun Fact: Thackery was the one who let the dogs out but he doesn’t like to talk about it.

Boris Johnson MP

It’s Boris.

And so there you go. Place your bets now please! One of these fine candidates will be our new Prime Minister and we simply cannot wait to find out which. We’ll publish further updates on the contest as soon as we can stop shaking.

A quick walk around the boundary rope of this week’s other news finds more bad headlines for the High Street (and lovers of chicken, bacon and edamame bean wraps) as 200 Boots stores were threatened with closure; The Spice Girls minus Posh performed some gigs and received some terrible reviews “(Geri and) Mel B cackle like a pair of gleeful Tory backbenchers”; a suggestion to cut university tuition fees and extend repayments was supported the government only to then be condemned by people who’d done the maths as benefitting only the wealthier of students; President Trump of America (and our hearts) applied a blanket 5% tariff on all Mexican imports (including blankets) until the Mexicans sort out America’s immigration problem and scientists have successfully engineered a spider toxin that can rapidly kill malaria-spreading mosquitos – trials saw 99% of the pests dead within 45 days. Impressive.

Finally, James Cordon announced that he and Ruth Jones have written a new episode of beloved sit-com Gavin and Stacey. It will be shown on Christmas Day and gives us a good excuse for ending with this:

See you next week.

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