Not for the first chuckle-some time, the Matt cartoon in the Daily Telegraph nails the moment. A man peers round a door into a committee room and says: “Is this the secret plot against Jeremy Corbyn, or the secret plot against Theresa May?”
Matt is even-handed with the irreverence, as shown today, and usually finds an askance way to the funny-bone.
More widely this morning, the headlines divide between Mrs Maybe’s Brexit bother, Jeremy Corbyn’s antisemitism troubles, and Chris Evans leaving BBC Radio 2.
I’ve never really got Chris Evans, didn’t like him on Top Gear, and felt that the weight of coverage of his exit yesterday on the BBC was absurdly over-the-top. But in defence of the BBC over-covering itself, Evans is all over the newspapers today as well.
But he’s not all over this ledge, as that previous paragraph contains all the topic deserves, except to add: please find someone who doesn’t cost licence-fee payers £1.6m a year, for heaven’s sake.
Does Brexit deserve more coverage? Oh, we’re stuck with that for now – or possibly until the last phlegmy cough before doomsday.
The front of the Daily Express – or the Brexit Bugle, if you prefer – has Boris Johnson and Theresa May in a face-off with the headline “BORIS v MAY”. That ‘Boris’ is there for typographical reasons, I guess, in that ‘Johnson’ would bust the character count. But it’s telling that he gets the chummy first name, while Theresa is stuck with her surname.
This latest display of Johnson trying to grab the wheel from Mrs Maybe is once again thanks to his column in the Daily Telegraph. It’s astonishing the way that whole newspaper seems to have been kidnapped by Johnson in the important business of keeping himself nailed to the ship of British life, like a mock-cheery figurehead squinting at the waves.
It is the habit on this ledge to conclude that Johnson is a ruthless, self-serving schemer who merely pretends to be a characterful bumbler. But let’s hand the man one thing: he can write in that colourful manner favoured by columnists everywhere.
In his column, he compared the last leg of the Brexit negotiations to an old-style wrestling match…
“The whole thing is about as pre-ordained as a bout between Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy; and in this case, I am afraid, the inevitable outcome is a victory for the EU, with the UK lying flat on the canvas with 12 stars circling symbolically over our semi-conscious head…”
As someone who pats words about, I’d say that was pretty good; but as someone who remains determined to dislike Johnson, I’d also say: “Look beyond the colourful words.”
I hardly ever feel sorry for Theresa May, but a flush of empathy does arise whenever she is sabotaged yet again by the man with the incredible hulking ego. The official Downing Street response to Johnson’s column lambasting Mrs Maybe’s Chequers plan was the quote: “There’s no new ideas in this plan to respond to.”
That is a terrible sentence, but a true one.
The Johnson plan is always the ‘me manifesto’. There is no plan other than the one where he gets to be prime minister.
Incidentally, that glow of empathy for Mrs Maybe never lasts long. Soon enough I remember all the terrible things she has done, and again start to mutter the words ‘hostile environment’. And after that, I feel better for no longer feeling remotely sorry for her any more.