In yet another apparent reboot of her General Election campaign, Theresa May spent much of yesterday - well, the part where she wasn’t aimlessly parroting slogans in order to put the press off the scent - telling anyone who would listen that only with the Tories could there be a half decent Brexit settlement. This was her latest defence against declining poll ratings, the means by which her campaign would get back on track.
And then, in the space of less than a minute, it began to unravel, as Jeremy Corbyn confirmed Labour’s Brexit negotiating team. Any advantage Team May might have retained then vanished completely as first the ranks of the media, and then the voters, looked at the Tory team, then looked at the Labour offering, and concluded that the imperial progress of the Empress Theresa was going nowhere on this one.
As predicted, Labour’s Brexit negotiating team would be headed by Keir Starmer, a barrister of decades’ standing, a QC, and a former Director of Public Prosecutions. Compare and contrast with David Davis, a well-meaning Tory, but one for whom the seriousness and complexity of the Brexit negotiations has never been wholly taken on board. The rest of the Labour team is equally sound.
Emily Thornberry, shadowing the Foreign Office, compares well to London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, whose main claim to fame with the EU has been to talk well, but lie badly, about it. Ms Thornberry has been steadier and more assured as the election campaign has progressed; Bozza’s main contribution has been in waving his arms and losing it badly in the aftermath of TV debates.
Barry Gardiner has also had a good election campaign, and before that was shadowing the job done by disgraced former Defence Secretary Liam Fox. The choice between the two men is straightforward: a safe pair of hands in Gardiner, or a spiv. Also, Fox’s proximity to a number of highly conservative US interest groups does not suggest he would be an even-handed trade representative. Not good for the Tories.
So the choice between Tory and Labour is a straightforward one: a vastly experienced lawyer, with experienced and competent support, versus the man who goofed over the Tories’ immigration target on Question Time last night, backed up by a liar and charlatan more interested in Himself Personally Now, and a spiv more interested in the main chance for him and his States mates.
And as to Theresa May being there to head her team, maybe that might be too much to ask: not only did she callously send Amber Rudd to bat for the Tories in last night’s TV debate despite Ms Rudd’s father dying on Monday, but she has refused an invitation to go on BBC Woman’s Hour - the show where Corbyn had his brain fart earlier this week - and has dumped on Justine Greening instead. Not a good look.
Strong and stable? As Winshton might have observed, “shome shtrength … shome shtability”. Anyone would think she isn’t up to the job. Just a thought.