CHEQUERS: THE LAST DAYS OF MAY

Reading Time: 9 minutes

CHEQUERS: THE LAST DAYS OF MAY

Disunity, disloyalty and hundred-foot-high turnstiles on the Irish Border

Steve McAuliffe

The inside scoop on what really happened at that fateful meeting at Chequers

 

BREXIT DEBATE. CHEQUERS. FRIDAY 6th JULY 2018

 

(There is general hubbub and conversation around the table)

 

PM Yes thank you everyone, thank you for coming.

 

(The conversation and hubbub continues unabated)

 

PM:  If we could just….

 

(The conversation continues)

 

PM:  For the sake of the country I think it is imperative that we get this meeting underway

 

(The Ministers continue chatting)

 

BORIS:  Silence!

 

(Everyone abruptly stops talking and turns to Boris. Boris points to the PRIME MINISTER)

 

PM:  Thank you Boris. — (Clears her throat) Now if we can begin…. Firstly we thought it would be a good idea to put everyone into little factions.

 

    LIZ TRUSS interjects

 

AR  ‘Factions’ Prime Minister?

 

LT  Groups. I meant to say groups. Thank you Liz.

 

     GAVIN WILLIAMSON interjects

 

GW   (adopting a mock-creepy voice) Oooh yes, thank-you Liz.

 

LT:  Oh piss off Gavin.

 

    LIAM FOX turns to GW

 

LF: Maybe the right honourable minister for South Staffordshire should (adopting a high-pitched child-voice) ‘Just shut up and go away’.

 

    GW folds his arms, sulkily.

 

PM:  Please, I have called this meeting for purposes of unity. So if we can just-

 

BJ:  Prime Minister before we …. before we no doubt commence with um… with great enthusiasm armed with a fiery commitment toward this, toward this absolutely vital, vital  matter in hand … as it were … I do have one question I’d like to ask. If you would be … if you would be good enough – nay kind, kind enough to indulge me on this one interjection.  As it were.

 

PM: – Are you saying you’d like to ask a question Boris? …

 

BJ   I am indeed Prime Minister.

 

PM  Well, I was hoping to push on with the exercises, but providing it doesn’t delay us for too long –

 

BJ  I am indebted to you, as always

 

    THERESA MAY smiles thinly.

 

BJ  And in that spirit, the question I would like to ask, indeed I think we would all like to ask at this crucial time, is this.

 

    (He stands, and with his hands resting on the table, he looks around at his colleagues, with a Churchillian bearing)

 

— When so few among us have given so much….

 

The question – nay the burning question. Is this ….

 

-Where the hell is David Davis’s trifle?

 

PM   …‘trifle’ Boris?

 

BJ   Indeed, trifle. The agreement was that David Davis was going to bring a trifle. -Am I wrong on that? Was I somehow misinformed?

 

    Amidst much shaking of heads, all heads turn to DAVID DAVIS

 

PM (Sighing) – David would you mind -briefly, and succinctly explaining to Boris the ‘trifle situation’. -And then, hopefully we can push on with somewhat urgent affairs of state.

 

DD: No, that’s a fair question, the Foreign Secretary makes a very fair and valid point. And indeed, as my honourable colleague has made clear, at the Downing Street briefing it was agreed that I was – indeed – allocated the task of bringing along a trifle – just as Govey would fetch the finger sandwiches – which if I may say, are delicious as usual by the way, Michael.

 

    MICHAEL nods demurely.

 

DD  To that end, the ingredients were purchased and the original recipe was initially agreed upon (in principle) with my, as I like to call her, better half – but as the execution of the recipe proceeded, there arose – how best to put it — some disagreement over a few – shall we say ‘trifling’ issues

 

DD chuckles to himself and looks around at the stone-faces of the unsympathetic gathering.

 

He clears his throat and hurriedly removes, then chews upon the arm of his glasses

 

DD: To clarify: the sticking point, as far I see it was – at the negotiating stage – the age-old sherry problem. Essentially, Prime Minister, it boils down to two options, and the options are these: sherry or no sherry; there was a clear division of opinion on this. One that couldn’t be bridged. Unfortunately.

 

MICHAEL GOVE interjects.

MG It’s just a bloody trifle David, we don’t need impact assessments.

 

LIAM FOX: (Mutters) – Neither did he, apparently.

 

BJ: This is precisely the point. -Why is it everything *sooo* bloody torturous with you Davis? – I mean, Gove made the sandwiches: I supplied the Eton Mess without any undue fuss or hullabaloo.

 

DOMINIC RAAB mutters under his breath

 

DR: Boris Supplied an Eton mess. – No change there then.

 

BJ: Fuck you Dom, I heard that

 

The PRIME MINISTER, THERESA MAY climbs to her feet.

 

PM: Now, now – please! This is exactly what I’m talking about. We need a unified, collective face.

 

BORIS:  That’s a grotesque image.

 

PM  – All this bickering and back-biting is getting us nowhere…

 

    MICHAEL GOVE stands up

 

MG  I would like to add another question Prime Minister

 

PM (Sitting back down, issuing forth and exasperated sigh) — Yes, alright. -Go on Michael.

 

MG  Will we be claiming back the ingredients and associated travel on expenses?

 

(There is unanimous and enthusiastic roar of encouragement upon this point)

 

PM:  As always Michael, all food and transport is claimable on expenses.

 

(A good natured cheer erupts from the assembled ministers)

 

PM:   (Under her breath) We await your Fortnum and Mason bill…

 

    (The Cheering eventually dies down)

 

PM:  — Now, moving on to matters at hand if we may. -David, I believe you have been exploring options for the Irish border..

 

    (Some groans and eye-rolling from various ministers)

 

DD  Well as you know Prime Minister – we have of course prioritised the ‘Irish question’ -for want of a better term – and have actioned this prioritisation by immediately putting – what I believe is a workable solution – out to consultation.

 

(There is a pause as The PM and Ministers await further elaboration.

DD takes off his glasses, folds them up and places them in his breast pocket. He sits back, hands behind head)

 

PM  –And this workable solution is — ?

 

DD looks around at his colleagues, before realising it is he who is expected to respond.

 

DD  Oh I beg your pardon I didn’t realise you expected a full-analysis….

 

PM:  I think that would be rather helpful at this stage, yes.

 

He replaces his glasses and lifts a briefcase onto the table. After some struggling with the combination he opens the case and takes out a sheath of papers. He immediately sets them to one side

 

DD   Ignore those, they’re bollocks…

 

DAVID DAVIS scrabbles around in the case. He pulls out a aluminium-foil wrapped sandwich….

 

DD:  …That needs throwing.

 

    There are impatient sighs and groans from around the table as he continues scrambling around in the case. He removes an FHM magazine, followed by a flask…

 

DD  I’m very sorry about this Prime Minister, I know for certain it’s in here. I distinctly recall putting it in here myself .….

 

BORIS JOHNSON lets forth with an exaggerated yawn.  There is some giggling.

 

Eventually DD pulls out a napkin and carefully unfolds it

 

DD  And, voila! (To BJ) – You see! – Have faith Boris, have faith.

 

PM  -A napkin, David?

 

DD  –Prime Minister, discussions went on deep into the night, culminating in a late supper, at an all-night Salsa bar in Ladbroke Grove ….. Let’s put it this way, as morning loomed, things got a little – shall we say, ‘interesting’

 

DAVID DAVIS winks at a visibly unamused ANDREA LEADSOM

 

BJ  Cut to the fucking chase David -.

 

MG:  -That would make a refreshing change.

 

DD  OK, sure. -Well, we were throwing a few ideas around – batting to and forth so to speak – seeing what stuck… the drink was flowing, and the music became frightfully loud … they started removing all the tables for the dancing, so I ended up scribbling the conclusions on a napkin. Well, conclusion, singular, to be exact.

 

PM  (Sighing audibly) – And the conclusion was?

 

DD  Yes, i’m just trying to decipher what was written… but there seems to be a slight sauce stain on here – maybe red wine – hard to determine ….

       (He leans in close to scrutinise) ….. bear with me a moment….. I’m having a little trouble making that particular word out –

 

DAVIS shows the napkin to SAJID JAVID.

 

DD   Have a look at that Saj, does that say ‘turntables’?

 

SJ  (Leaning in close to read it) It says ‘turnstiles’.

 

DD  Oh yes, of course, yes, well that makes sense in the context of – er – of determining the – er – the Irish border question, as it were.

 

PM  O for God’s sake David what does it bloody say?

 

DD …Well …..

 

    SAJID JAVID impatiently interjects.

 

SJ  It says, and I quote: “100 foot-high turnstiles shall be manned by dwarves”  

 

DAVIS takes off his glasses and chews upon the arm.

 

DD  That’s pretty much the gist.

       -At this early stage.

 

(There is a protracted and stunned silence).

 

PM  ….. ‘Dwarves’ – David?

 

DD nods. The PRIME MINISTER sinks back down into her chair and sighs loudly.

 

DD ……. Yes. (He chews nervously on an imaginary toffee) — dwarves. Not necessarily dwarves obviously – I rather think the MJB guys were using -er – artistic licence there… We like to call it ‘blue-sky-thinking’… the consultation process will refine it further, obviously.

 

    DD looks around at the shocked, open-mouthed expressions of his colleagues. Some shake their heads pitifully.

 

DD   I’m sorry …, is ‘dwarves’ not the correct term these days? –

 

    There is a few moments of hostile silence – until BORIS JOHNSON leans across the table.

 

BJ  Have you completely lost the plot David? — Or, maybe you tumbled into a sodding Lewis Carroll novel?

 

    MICHAEL GOVE interjects

 

MG  Actually I’m beginning to think a hookah-smoking caterpillar would be preferable as Brexit Secretary

 

    SAJID JAVID interjects

 

SJ  – How would that even work David? – A hundred foot-high-turnstiles on the Irish border? —Just on a practical level, you’d need giants to guard those surely, not dwarves.

 

    GAVIN WILLIAMSON interjects

 

GW  Davis is *such* a  twanger!

 

    DOMINIC RAAB interjects

 

DR   I think prick is the word you’re looking for Gav. -. You’re an absolute prick Davis.

 

DD Leaps to his feet, he bunches up the napkin and throws it at Raab

 

DD  Tell you what ‘Mr Workhouses-for-the-poor’ – why don’t you spend up to 2 hours a day, 3 days a week trying to unravel the shit we’re in?

 

DR  Is that an offer?

 

DD  I’d like to see you trying to please both factions of this bloody party

 

DR  Just say the word Mr. Impact Assessment.

 

PM  Now come on David, why don’t you sit down …

 

DD  No, sod it. In fact, bugger it.  I’ve had enough of all this snickering and name-calling and – this, this – endless whining about trifles … and hard-borders and impact assessments and all the endless, relentless SHIT.  

 

BJ:  Getting very red-faced isn’t he?

 

MG:  Positively puce I’d say.

 

DD:  Give the job to that smug fucker (POINTS TO DOMINIC RAAB) – see how well he does. Tell you what, I tell you what Prime Minister, you can deny him his own private jet as well.  -See how he likes travelling to Brussels by train.

 

PM  Your objections have been noted David, now if you will just take a seat.

 

DD  No. No Prime Minister I will not. On point of principle, I resign.

 

    Much eye-rolling and groaning around the table

 

BJ:  God spare us, he’s threatening to resign again

 

MG:  Quelle surprise.

 

DD: I mean it. You will have my resignation letter in the morning.

 

    He leans across and picks up the screwed-up napkin, puts it in his case.

 

MG:  Golly, I think he actually means it this time.

 

BJ:  Bugger it: he’s pushed the button

 

MG:  The nuclear option

 

PM  Are you saying you are actually resigning David?

 

DD I am Prime Minister. I’m afraid I am left with no other option but to resign.

 

PM  This could trigger a general election David, please consider your position

 

BJ:  (whispers to MG) -Or a leadership election (MG nods sagely)

 

DD  I understand that, but my position is untenable. I could handle the trifle gags and all that public school silliness, but the level of abuse I have had to suffer

 

PM  Please David, wait. We’ll …. We’ll have a reshuffle — (Hurriedly) you can have Boris’s job.

 

BJ   WHAT??!

 

PM  No, not Boris’s job, sorry – I’m a bit ….

 

BJ  If someone takes my job it’ll be on my say-so

 

PM  I meant to say, Andrea’s job, you can have Andrea Leadsom’s job.

 

AL  (Looks up from her phone) Wait…what? —

 

DD  I don’t want her shitty job.  (POINTS AT JOHNSON) I don’t want his shitty job, (POINTS AT JAVID) or his shitty job, I don’t even want your shitty job Prime Minister, respectfully – which I can tell you makes me a rare beast amongst this … nest of vipers. No – that’s it, I’m done.  -I’m out of here (DD GATHERS UP HIS CASE AND PAPERS)  — Thank you for everything

 

    DOMINIC RAAB sitting back, smiling, calls after him –

 

DR  Don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out David!

 

    DAVID DAVIS pauses at the door and walks back in.

 

DD  Before I go –  I’d just like to wish you the very best of luck in your new position Dom

 

DD angrily gives DOMINIC RAAB the finger, right up to his face, before turning on his heel and heading to the door

….

 

The door slams behind him as DAVID DAVIS exits the room.

 

A stunned silence fills the room.

 

In disbelief Ministers look around at each other.

 

THE PRIME MINISTER lets out a low protracted moan; rests her elbows on the table; cradles her head in her hands.

 

ANDREA LEADSOM appears to be weeping.

 

BORIS JOHNSON stands and casually walks to the corner of the room. Seemingly unconcerned, he piles finger sandwiches onto his plate.

 

Eventually MICHAEL GOVE speaks:

 

MG    Dwarves??!  

 

As laughter fills the room, amidst the collective jollity, unnoticed, Gove’s smile slowly fades, his gerbil-eyes gradually narrow as he sets his steely gaze upon the Prime Minister’s bowed head.

 

Standing beside the food- table BORIS JOHNSON chews on a finger-sandwich, and narrows his eyes as he fixes his steely gaze upon MICHAEL GOVE.

 

-Outside a big black cloud passes over the sun and the room momentarily darkens.

 

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