PMQs Sketch: First Dates

PMQs: every Wednesday lunchtime it feels like watching an action replay of the worst first date you have ever been on in your life. Like a cocky sixth-former with horrendously bad chat, Jez always over-plans his opening gambit: this time it was disability rights. Hapless and out of fashion, his first lines hit so far off base that they force May to rely on stock phrases she had mentally planned out for different scenarios. Like an under-confident teenage girl trying to recall what she said to herself in the mirror the night before, May hesitates before every response. Will they ever get anywhere near the hot verbal intercourse we all crave?

The main course seldom goes better. Jez’s material was again worthy and stale; he overcooked public sector pay with statistics. Meanwhile, the bloody difficult date sat opposite might as well have been in a different restaurant. May is a clock-watching woman, she has no desire to be there: the kind of girl who might just vanish from the table while you’ve gone to the gents. This week, the last PMQs before conferences, it was especially clear she could not wait to get the taxi home. She regards every question as an attempt to dishonour her, yet she is dealing with a man who essentially cannot perform. It is painful to watch her act so defensively against Jez who, when it comes to debate, cannot keep it up…

The slightest tingle of a frisson of interest as Corbyn quotes Hammond from the ’22: “A Conservative Prime Minister once told Britain, ‘you’ve never had it so good’. Now a Conservative Chancellor tells his own MPs that.” It went down as if he had mentioned a hated ex-boyfriend. May parried with a list of u-turns more suited to a long-rehearsed marital argument than the erotic potential of first date wit: “He promised workers he would protect their rights; on Monday he let them down. He promised students he would deal with their debt; he has let them down. He promised to support Trident, but he has let voters down. And he promised to back Brexit, but has let people down.” Now get out and don’t come back!

By all conventional measures, we know that these potential lovers offer little to each other: Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are entirely bereft of connection, there’s no spark, they talk exclusively at cross-purposes and they share absolutely nothing in common. They should never have been put together, and as with Channel 4’s First Dates – which due to May’s most notable line, we know Michael Fabricant will appear on – the only scrap of mutuality is that they happen to share a joint television appearance. Basically, there is no prospect of a happy ending…

There is a scientific theory of dating which states that potential partners decide within five seconds of first meeting whether they will go all the way. Yet again today, we were reminded almost within the first five seconds that Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will never reach the heights of parliamentary mutual climax. Try as they might, they are condemned to this perpetual weekly first date, where there is only awkwardness and failure. Whichever pair of leaders is next, for the sake of the nation, they must be able to get it on…




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