SKETCH: Czech Who You’re Talking to…

pmqsThose expecting a post-Trump meltdown during this afternoon’s PMQs were to be sorely disappointed, with the scant mention of the incoming President a clear indicator that MPs are still in denial, the first and most riot-prone stage of grief. Instead Jeremy Corbyn decided to press Theresa May on the Foreign Secretary’s Prague jaunt, where Boris decided – as one does when boozing in the former Eastern bloc – to draw up Government policy on the hoof. Bedecked in the full nun’s habit customary of British tourists in the region, and while momentarily pausing to chug from his overflowing half-litre of 1 Budvar, Johnson revealed that Britain “probably will have to come out of the customs union”. He then let out a satisfying belch and left to ride one of those multi-person beer-cycles where you cruise around town mowing down unsuspecting pedestrians and necking Premium Czech beer (that’s foul eurofizz” in Farage).

Unfortunately it turns out that what happens on tour doesn’t necessarily stay on tour. Especially when you’re Foreign Secretary. And especially when you mention it to a Czech daily Newspaper (although one can admire the Boris for his hop-induced optimism that no one in the UK would be able to translate back from Czech). Oh well: it’s a learning curve, and to be honest in the grand scheme of things it’s nowhere near the worst thing an overweight, middle-aged, British man has done on a trip to Prague. In fact, come to think of it, inadvertently revealing diplomatic secrets must be one of the most minor misdemeanours to have been committed by an Englishman in the Czech Republic since the advent of budget airlines. So well done Boris for restoring our national pride in the East! Someone give that man a beer!

Of course teetotaller Corbyn felt no such merriment when contemplating the Foreign Secretary’s Czech jolly, and stony-faced, asked May to confirm whether his remarks about leaving the customs union were true. Naturally the PM dodged the question noting that she wanted “the best possible trade deal once we’ve left”, part of her PMQs philosophy of making policy statement so broad as to be universally agreeable. Unpleased, Corbyn remarked that he asked specifically “about the Foreign Secretary’s remarks about leaving the customs union” and implored Boris “to come forward and tell us what he actually said”. Smiling and looking down, somewhat abashed, Johnson did his best not to laugh. Men throughout the nation sighed and thought, “there but for the grace of God…”. After all, who hasn’t faced stern recriminations from a humourless foe across the house about a trip to Eastern Europe?

Having helped boost Johnson’s popularity a good few percentage points, Corbyn then decided it was opportune to remark on the Government’s Brexit plans that he “sympathised with the Italian government minister who said this week “somebody needs to tell us something, and it needs to be something that makes sense”. Mrs. May was naturally shocked that the Labour leader thought it prudent to base our negotiating strategy around the whims of eyetie officials, and so made a particular effort to reply to him very slowly, as one would to an infant, that: “of course those in the EU that we will be negotiating with will want us to set out at this stage every detail of our negotiating strategy. If we were to do that it would be the best possible way of ensuring we got the worst possible result for this country”. A good response, one that however misunderstands that Mr. Corbyn does actually want the worst possible result for this country, which is why he sides with everyone from Argentinian militarists to IRA terrorists to Italian lawmakers. It’s the first tenet in the Stop the War manifesto: on any issue the right answer is always the one that is vehemently opposed to the interests of the UK and the US.

Having sustained his unprecedented now 14 month long PMQs losing streak Corbyn finally sat down. However it wasn’t over because Angus Robertson then rose to reiterate the Labour leader’s questions virtually point for point but with the addition of a slightly camp Scottish accent. One wonders if they could they not get together before PMQs over a lemonade so this doesn’t happen every week? Portsmouth MP Flick Drummond got up to ask the PM to confirm the importance of the BBC world service as a “lifeline to people around the world”. Corroborating this Mrs. May then went on to talk about the value of the beeb in bringing “independent, accurate journalism…to people where often free speech is limited”. This sounded very impressive, although one can’t help but wonder how Auntie manages to produce independent, non-biased journalism abroad when they can’t at home (despite Brexit). Then in a wonderful display of just how poorly the concept of irony translates north of Hadrian’s wall, SNP MP Malcolm MacDonald lamented that “too often social media is the weapon of choice by those who seek to bully and intimidate others”. The House erupted in laughter, and cyber-nats everywhere raced to their keyboards to threaten Westminster MPs with beheading for the insult. Finally George Kerethan got up to ask the PM to “confirm or deny if  there had been any official conversations at any level regarding giving Nigel Farage a peerage”. The PM rose smiling and coyly remarked that all she “can say to the honourable gentleman was that such matters are normally never discussed in public”. “Nooooooooooo?” wailed one Labour MP in agony. First Brexit. Then Trump. But surely not Farage? Surely not? Stop the world, they want to get off…




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Quote of the Day

Bill Cash, the original Brexiter, tells The Daily Politics he distinguishes…

“…between being in the customs union and a customs union… what a customs union means is something yet to be resolved.”

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