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Mark Steel: If you had to describe the current Cabinet in two words, 'strong' and 'stable' wouldn't be among them

Tough talking: Theresa May gestures as she delivers a keynote speech on Brexit at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast yesterday
Tough talking: Theresa May gestures as she delivers a keynote speech on Brexit at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast yesterday

I'm starting to enjoy Brexit, now that there's barely a pretence that anyone has a clue what they're doing and every day is like a soap opera from Ecuador, so you think "that's too ridiculous even by its own standards".

It would barely cause a stir now if Jacob Rees-Mogg rode into the House of Commons with his neighbours on a herd of llamas, blowing a bugle through a giant monocle to declare war on the Chequers agreement until Anna Soubry ripped off her shirt to reveal she was wearing a bomb, due to go off in five minutes unless we agree to stay in the customs union, to which Jeremy Corbyn asked "Is the prime minister aware of the decline in honey production in Devon?"

So many ministers have resigned, Theresa May will have to start appointing random people such as Mrs Prendergast from Beccles, who will take over at defence - but won't be able to do Wednesdays, as that's when she helps out at the launderette.

The Vote Leave campaign is found to have broken a series of electoral laws and responds by saying it doesn't matter, because the laws were stupid, although the whole point of their campaign was to insist we were able to make our own laws.

So, if they were honest in the referendum, they'd have screamed "We want our country back, so we can take no notice of British laws - not European laws".

And the prime minister clings on, by producing documents that all sides in her party might be persuaded to vote for. But the only way they can do this is with vague statements that don't mean anything, so there are votes on "remaining in a separate, but independent, union of perspiration federations ratified by a customs grapefruit".

Even then, they have to break all the parliamentary rules, such as the tradition that an MP on one side of a debate can "pair off" with an MP on the other side. So, neither turns up to vote and they cancel each other out, if one MP has to be somewhere else urgently.

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But, this time, the Government ordered its MPs to break this agreement, so a Tory agreed with Labour MP Jo Swinson, who has a young baby, that neither would vote, then sneaked in and voted anyway. At first he claimed this was an honest mistake.

And you can understand that, as we've all done it. We get distracted by a text showing a funny clip of a cat getting on a bus, then the next thing we know we've wandered into a voting lobby in the House of Commons for a critical and close vote on a matter of historic importance.

Then you say to yourself, "What did I come in here for?" and, by then, it's too late. On and on this chaos goes.

We gave ourselves two years to arrange a vastly complex set of agreements on every area of life, but after 16 months we don't appear to have started. And this is to come up with a proposal to put forward as a starting position that the EU won't accept, anyway.

The ministers that resigned over that agreement might as well have resigned because we should insist Denmark is turned upside down and Germany gives us two of their World Cups.

And this is the bunch recommended to the country as "strong and stable".

There can't be any two words in the language that are less accurate about them.

Pick any two at random and it would make more sense: "triangular and fruity"; "orange and Nigerian"; "Jurassic and asthmatic".

That is how glorious this turmoil has become.

It would have been more accurate for Theresa May to go into the last election picking any two words, then sticking to them.

So her speech went: "This country faces a choice, between chaos with Labour, or a conservative government that is Cheesy Wotsit. Cheesy Wotsit in defence, Cheesy Wotsit in negotiating Brexit and, above all, Cheesy Wotsit in delivering jobs and security for our families."

And the daftest thing of all is millions of people would still have voted for them.

Belfast Telegraph


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