If Theresa May is reading the ‘reviews’ over breakfast this morning, perhaps she should stick to the Daily Express (“DISMAY” with a bit of valiant butter for her dry toast) and the Mail (“FIGHTING FOR HER LIFE” with a pot of “Brexit vote bombshell” jam to go on top of that thin smear of butter).
Everywhere else there is only defeat and humiliation, as her dull stubborn progress earns her a 432/202 kicking – the biggest thrashing in our political history.
The editor of the Daily Mail might feel sorry for her, and his rival at the Express might, bewilderingly, still be mumbling that she’s the right woman for the job. But the rest of us can surely agree that she got us into this mess – and is incapable of getting us out of it.
It’s a Brexit car crash and she’s the one doing the driving.
There is a wider lesson here about the perils of certainty, but let’s first pin the blame tail on the woman who handed out the blindfolds before leading us towards that cliff over there.
Theresa May owns this Brexit balls-up, for it is a disaster of her own making. She put party politics ahead of the national interest, she pandered to the insatiable right on her own side, she insisted on making Brexit about immigration, and she drew so many red lines that they tripped her up.
She accuses others of playing politics, while gambling the whole house on being able to sell a deal everyone agreed was a dud. A smarter and less intransigent politician would have seen where this was all headed, but Theresa just kept on, insisting that only she could be right.
While this has become more than a party play, it is still at heart a Tory psycho-drama: a torrid tale of infighting and backbiting. There might be Labour people who dislike Europe – Jeremy Corbyn, for one – but the Conservative Party has true ownership of this shabby tragedy.
As for Corbyn, there is a probably a technical reason for tabling a no confidence motion after May’s defeat. But stripped of the tatty varnish of politics, and looked at with plain old human eyes, it just looks like kicking a woman when she is down: a low but easy blow.
Now I have no sympathy for Mrs Maybe at all, but Corbyn didn’t hop into that ring until his opponent was flat-out on the canvas.
As we drift aimless and bickering to whatever fate awaits, perhaps it is time to confront the inadequacy of certainty. What this mess does is illustrate the dangers of being certain that you are right – and the double-dangers of being certain about something that by its nature is uncertain.
Whether you are for or against, it has never been possible to say with certainty what Brexit is: and the snake oil salesmen of the far right have been the worst offenders in over-selling their fevered dreams to the rest of us.
Assorted sensible MPs, including Labour’s Yvette Cooper, began calling for cross-party cooperation on Brexit a while ago. And that certainly looks more appealing than carrying on with Mrs Maybe’s blindfolded ramble. Is there any hope for a non-party solution to this unholy political mess?