Inside the House of Commons Departure Lounge

The House of Commons was today a green-benched departure lounge; Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn were two very different holidaymakers. Wan-faced frequent filer Theresa, slumped closest to the gate, was barely distinguishable from a battered old vending machine in a London Gatwick corner. Equally mechanical, but less full of sweetness, for Theresa it was just a 45 minute wait for her flight-outta-here; if she could have had speedy boarding she would have paid for it gladly. In strolls sombrero-toting ethical-traveller Jeremy Corbyn, with glee only shared by priapic teenage boys awaiting their first flight to Ibiza. He knows his hols will be spent ‘campaigning’ on beaches, surrounded by socialist vixens in hammer and sickle bikinis (basically). Over magazine-tops in air-conditioned lounges we will all observe our fellow travellers this summer. Hopefully we won’t end up on the same plane as these two…

In an unhelpful metaphor for the government, the first question was about driver-less cars. “This country is a world leader in driver-less cars and that’s part of our strong economy“: Theresa May might as well have been reading out a lifeless feature from an in-flight magazine. She sounded as robotic as middle-aged cabin crew member reciting a list of overpriced refreshments over an aeroplane’s PA system: it’s all played back from memory and delivered with the excitement and promise of a moist Ryanair sandwich. Like an unmanned aerial vehicle all she does is drone. Corbyn once again demonstrated his navigational ineptitude by taking off in the direction of public sector pay and only eventually getting round to Cabinet in-fighting. Would you let that man fly your plane? Would you let him sit in the special seat by the emergency exit? It’s not likely to trouble you this summer, but if you do find yourself on the same plane as Jez, remember that he is probably only there to assist in a hijacking. Alert the sky marshal should you see him aboard…

The Speaker again played the role of that fluorescent-jacketed EasyJet dispatcher who buzzes around the gate, operating at a level of self-importance way above their station. He’s the little one behind check-in with the overtly welcoming but actually entirely snide personality, familiar from reality documentaries like Airport, blocking upgrades and patronising all the passengers. Thank God for a holiday from him. Ian Murray, the vacuous Labour MP for Edinburgh South, called Theresa May an “interim Prime Minister“: like a drunk Scot on a package holiday flight one longed for him to be off-loaded and refused travel. And like all angry Scots he came in a pack: the SNP’s Hannah Bardel sat on the back row by the toilets and the galley in her Scotland football shirt. The House of Commons now needs to be split into economy and business class sections so that these riff-raff are kept at bay. And First Class for Rees-Mogg…

Theresa’s best line came as she blasted Corbyn for “talking Britain down“. It had more than the usual sting in the context of the vacation atmosphere: you can’t talk Britain down on holiday. Jeremy said the Prime Minister needed to “take a check with reality“: an unusual but effective construction, by which he meant the Prime Minister needed a reality check. The sense of joy when the final call was made for departure was extraordinary: in the history of human recreation, has there ever been a more-welcome holiday than this coming break from Prime Minister’s Questions? Have a good summer…

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Quote of the Day

Andrea Leadsom told BBC Radio 4’s Today

“He’s made his views on Brexit on the record, and the problem with that of course is that the chair’s impartiality is absolutely essential. … He’s made his views known on Brexit… it’s a matter for him but nevertheless it’s a challenge and all colleagues need to form their own view of that.”


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