“The boy stood on the burning deck whence all but he had fled.”
A burning deck can’t be an optimal setting for anyone, but she seemed quite comfortable there in the flames. What extraordinary creatures Prime Ministers are.
She got a stage cheer – more than one – from the benches behind. She laid about herself as Prime Ministers do. “I’m a fighter not a quitter,” she said. She might have stolen a better line, preferably from a Conservative, but she’s nicked so much else from Labour the habit must be hard to break.
Some of us had expected carnage, collapse, crying, but those who had were disappointed. She and her brave face marched down her front bench to the exit.
But the deck is definitely on fire and all but she have definitely fled.
Throughout the half hour, the faces behind her settled into a blank bank of embarrassment. She has mortified her party. Michel Ellis was watching through his fingers. Jacob Rees Mogg supported his head in case it fell off. Penny Mordaunt was pretending she wasn’t there. Jeremy Hunt was radiant.
And on the benches behind, we saw row upon row of folded arms, empty faces, and Michael Fabricant laughing and cheering like fifty-five MPs.
Still she boomed on in her Thatcher-tribute voice. Her eyes were dark but her spirit was up – and a very faint, a very distant voice, almost below the level of the senses was wondering if she might make it in the end.
Opinion is so certain she is finished, so convinced of victory that it is vulnerable to a stunning reversal, a brilliant narrative twist with her enemies mis-liking each other more than they mislike her.
Failing that, the only dignity left to her is to go down in a blaze . She looks as though she can do that.