In seventy short seconds, Theresa May confirmed she has lost all grip on reality
Her words left her mouth like terrified soldiers out of the landing crafts on D-Day. They seemed almost self-aware of their own futility
No press conference for Theresa May in Brussels. Perhaps because she had absolutely nothing new to say whatsoever, though that hasn’t stopped her at any point in the last six months.
All we got were some short strangulated barks of nothing, lasting about a minute, delivered into a microphone held by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, to make clear, as only she can, that nothing has changed.
Even by her own low standards, new lows were reached. In her own utterly unimpressive way, she has come to resemble one of those impossible Trinidadian limbo champions. There is no bar so low that she cannot find a way under it. Public expectation is barely six inches from the floor, and yet under it she went again, inching forwards on the insides of the arches of her feet, the impossibly supine woman, a human tray, sliding across the ground like a sea caterpillar
She has come to Brussels to renegotiate an agreement that cannot be renegotiated. To fulfil the mission given to her by the House of Commons, to go and ask for what everyone knows they will not give, and then come back with nothing.
“I’m. Erm. Clear. That. I’m. Going. To. Deliver. Brexit.” she stuttered. Her words left her mouth like terrified soldiers out of the landing crafts on D-Day. They seemed almost to have a futile life of their own, desperate not to be spat out into this hostile world. What chance would they stand, these little unarmed noises, not fit for combat, embarrassed by their own denuded ridiculousness?
“I’m going to deliver it on time,” she carried on. “That’s what I’m going to do for the British public.” It is scarcely worth repeating that half the country doesn’t want it delivered on time. They don’t want it delivered at all. At some point, in the near and far too late future, it’s possible she’ll work out she should never have pretended to be Winston Churchill, charged with some sacred mission to deliver Britain to its promised land. The promised land will be terrible. She knows it, and not only can she not say it, she can’t extend her emotional range to acknowledge that she is dragging at least half her country kicking and screaming towards it.
As Kuenssberg spoke, patiently pointing out, at least three times, that Brussels has continually said no to the thing she is offering, the prime minister’s face seemed to transfix into some kind of death mask. It was the look a Scorsese gang boss gives in the moment he knows he’s been ratted out and the game is up.
It went on. “That’s what I’m going to do for the British public. I’ll be negotiating hard in the coming days to do just that,” she said, before grimacing and striding out towards her waiting car. That car was there to take her back to London, where she would, apparently ”be negotiating hard in the coming days.”
Who with? There was, alas, no time to ask. The only possible answer can be with her own brittle grip on reality.