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Guys, it’s 108 shopping days till Brexit, and we’re grabbing maces

I wonder if a female MP will ever grab the mace, as Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle did on Monday night? Guys, I’m kidding. Of course I don’t wonder that. Grabbing the mace is the parliamentary equivalent of buying a used Boxster and getting a Route 66 tattoo. In my lifetime, the only three persons who have grabbed the mace are cordite-sniffer John McDonnell, this new starlet Russell-Moyle and Michael Heseltine. Draw your own conclusions.

I know Heseltine’s reputation is now so rose-tinted that it has even survived an attempted alsatian-killing, but before he was everyone’s favourite canicidal maniac, he was a serial diva. Even when apparently principled, Heseltine’s embarrassing flounces were the mood music of childhood for political nerds like me. There was the cabinet walkout during Westland – very Downing Street’s Drag Race – then walking off the news because the Belgrano whistleblower was on it with him; then the mace-waving that got him his Tarzan nickname. Face it: grabbing the mace is the ultimate dick move. Welcome to the pantheon, Lloyd! Or the mantheon, whatever.
Anyway, speaking of late-stage midlife crises, whither the

United Kingdom? It’s no coincidence that since the vote to leave, we have barely stopped hearing that Britain really needs some expensive, high performance hardware to make it a success. We need a new royal yacht. We need a foreign office plane. We need 37 impossible bridges. We need to quit our jobs, learn to surf, and have sex with barmaids our daughters are Facebook friends with. And after a day like Monday, we need to accept that we could end up sleeping in our car outside the marital home, and begging to be let back in.

By now, you are likely dimly aware that British prime minister Theresa May has cancelled her unwinnable Brexit vote, and expended every last penny of political capital to do it. No one has ever paid this much for a bit of extra time, not even Tory MPs at 4am on a high-class jolly in Riyadh. (“She’ll do it, but you have to chuck in 100 free Storm Shadow missiles.&rdquo

May has now embarked on a harum-scarum tour of European capitals – a sort of National Lampoon’s Brexit Vacation, designed to really get you into the holiday mood. Alas, the EU has made it very clear that there is nothing for her in these particular Christmas markets.

Not clear enough for Andrea Leadsom, inevitably, who this morning warned the EU that “if we want to avoid that no-deal Brexit, we need to go back to the drawing board”. To which the only grown-up answer is LOLOLOLOL. If the producers of Avengers: Endgame want to avoid binning off Chris Hemsworth and casting me as Thor, they need to go back to the drawing board. Come on, guys – don’t ruin this for yourselves.

As for other options, according to May’s spokesman this morning: “The prime minister has been clear – we will not be having a second referendum.” After the election there wasn’t going to be, and the cancelled vote there wasn’t going to be, who can imagine a more cast-iron warranty? You’ve heard of the Kitemark; a Theresa May guarantee is the shitemark. Either way, there are just 108 shopping days till Brexit, when the UK will leave the EU with or without a deal. It’s an interesting strategy, time-wasting when you’re 6-0 down. Are you watching, Guardiola?

As I write this, the police have just tasered someone outside parliament, the mace-grabber has conducted self-admiring interviews in the pub, the airwaves are crawling with Nigel Farage, and Angela Merkel is live in Berlin, waiting patiently on a red carpet while officials struggle to liberate Theresa May from a car she was somehow locked in.

I mean … wherever we are, “shitshow” doesn’t cover this postcode. See also “clusterfuck”. Even relatively new coinages like The Thick of It’s “omnishambles” are cracking under the strain. We are now in that semantic endzone where the brand name itself comes to connote an entire genre of awful. “Brexit” is now so far the runaway market leader for words to conjure up chaotic malfunction that you simply ask your pharmacist for it by name. Expect to hear it being wheeled out in settings far removed from Britain’s exit from the EU in fairly short order. Picture a US first responder emerging from some disaster scene to speak to reporters: “We encountered a total Brexit in there. Worst thing I’ve seen in 32 years of service. A lot of the guys are going to need counselling.” Or imagine a bizarre football mistake, where, to cut a long showboat short, the player is stretchered off with two suspected broken legs, and the match commentator can only say: “Oof … he’s Brexited that one.”

And yet, there are hourly reminders that it could be a lot worse. European Research Group henchman Steve Baker MP has declared that the four Eurosceptics who have quit the cabinet – Boris Johnson, David Davis, Dominic Raab and Esther McVey – should decide which one of them will run as a Brexit PM. What a banquet of choice for the British people that would be. According to YouGov polling this week, Boris Johnson’s approval ratings are currently minus 35, David Davis’s are minus 19, Dominic Raab’s are minus 21, and Esther McVey’s were not polled, presumably on the basis that the recently departed high priestess of universal credit would break their measuring device.

Incredibly, though, Boris still spent the weekend casting himself as Aslan in some abortion of a Narnia metaphor, when he’s absolutely the biggest Edmund ever to stalk the earth. “Betray my family for a bit of high-end Turkish delight? Yes please!”

The only fleeting satisfaction is that the British news media seem to have enabled their find-my-Cameron function. Having gone largely under the radar for the past two years, he is increasingly accosted by reporters outside his various lucrative engagements. On Monday night, Sky News caught up with the former prime minister somewhere and asked if he regretted calling the referendum, and he did look vaguely haunted as he fell back on his “it was the right thing to do” catchphrase. Alas, Cameron ended the encounter by cocooning himself in the backseat of a departing black Range Rover, the vehicular choice for people who are unaffected by politics.

We can only await his memoirs. Shame he shut all those libraries – he could probably have used the book sales.
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