Meanwhile in No Treasure Island…

IN the news today, Brexit. Oh, there’s no need to make that face, as we’ll not be shaking off that pestilence for a while yet.

Mrs Maybe is heading to Africa to drum up post-Brexit business. As she put on her safari suit, and took her pained smile out of the freezer, where she is rumoured to keep it between public appearances, she said a no-deal Brexit “wouldn’t be the end of the world”.

And she said this while going to the ends of the world to patch up the Brexit holes in the British economy. Of course, Africa isn’t the end of the world if you live there: Britain is.

In readiness for another trip to faraway places to atone for breaking with that near trading place called Europe, Mrs Maybe issued one of those zinging statements that so often put us all at ease.

What she said, or possibly mumbled between gritted teeth, was that the government was “putting in place the preparation such that if we are in that situation, we can make a success of it, just as we can make a success of a good deal”.

Words to make you worry that the art of oratory should be reported missing to the police.

For some reason, her leaden prose summoned the black spot. This, you will recall, is the pirate curse; or perhaps you will recall it after a quick Google, as I did.

Robert Louis Stevenson created the black spot in his novel Treasure Island as an indicator of guilt in an accused pirate. This marker consisted of a circular piece of card or paper, blackened on one side, with the other side containing a message. The message wasn’t usually good news and could lead to a pirate being deposed or killed.

If you see Theresa May glancing at her hand while she is on her African shopping trip, she’ll be checking for that pirate curse, as placed there by her feuding ‘friends’ in the Tory party. So far, it must be said, all that’s been written on the reverse is one word: “Brexit.” But that’s a mighty curse for the prime minister and the rest of us.

While Mrs Maybe is meeting officials in Keyna, South Africa and Nigeria, back home the pirates in all parties will be preparing for six months of full-on political drama.

Never a bad thing to get out of the house and have a break, especially when the place is in such a mess.

But it is easy to detect a sense of desperation in Mrs Maybe’s trips abroad. For if we hadn’t got ourselves into this anti-Europe tangle, there would be no need for all the desperate glad-handing in far-flung places.

The Brexit buccaneers such as Jacob Rees-Moog (sorry, but that’s his name now: see Sunday’s blog) seem to be harking back to the days of Empire, when we ‘owned’ large parts of the world and took along the pink paint to prove squatters’ rights.

The whole Brexit vision thing is simply looking back to a dusted-off so-called golden past to reimagine a possibly bleak future.

Mrs Maybe’s own chancellor said last week that a no-deal Brexit would cost £80 billion in extra borrowing and inhibit long-term economic growth. But she’s having none of that and has another zippy line up her sleeve – “What we are doing is just sitting down, getting on with the work.”

Meanwhile, on No Treasure Island, the bickering continues about whose fault all this might be. David Cameron’s, of course, although that’s an old story now.

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