Or rather, B-Day.
In yesterday’s scorching heat, itself preceded by tumultuous thunderclaps and lightning flashes during the night, the sun set on one era and rose on another.
It was a day of drama, tension, and upheaval – everything an important day in politics should be.
We said goodbye to Theresa May and welcomed in Boris Johnson. Nobody quite knew what was going to happen as the political panda that is Mr Johnson shuffled into the doors of Number 10, Downing Street.
But by golly and by gosh did he immediately leave his mark.
The Maybot Is Terminated
Yesterday, we said a sort-of-but-not-all-that fond farewell to Theresa May, Britain’s second female Prime Minister. A mere 120 days since May first offered to resign in order to push her Brexit deal through, she was finally done.
But, before she could depart No. 10 and hand the keys over to Bozza, Tezza had one last Prime Minister’s Questions to take part in. To a packed House of Commons, she fielded “questions” from all over the house, which were mostly just complimentary statements about her premiership from stooges or admirers.
This is the norm for a PM’s final PMQs – play nice, thank them for their service, turf them out with a nice gift of a decanter or a handbag and then move on.
Jeremy Corbyn, however, didn’t get the memo – he laid into May’s legacy, highlighting her shortcomings on policy and failure to address some serious social issues like homelessness and food banks.
And, in a moment that makes me wish she’d had a bit more chutzpah from the start, she showed humility towards Corbyn with her final statement to him…
And then told him that he should follow her example and stand down as leader of the Labour Party.
This, in political terms, is the equivalent of shaking someone’s hand, kicking them in the shin, farting on their head while they’re keeled over then setting off on a moped, aiming a ferociously-flipped bird in their direction as you do so.
It was rather glorious.
Then, tears brimming, she said her goodbyes, marched out of the Commons, shaking the hand of John Bercow as she went (some enemies aren’t worth keeping), and set off for Buckingham Palace.
After resigning to Queenie, May left the palace and retreated to her constituency in Maidenhead.
The time had come.
Boris, on his way to meet with the Queen, was met by climate change protestors who forced him to change his route, but this was a mere hiccup on the path to fulfil his destiny – far worse had befallen him before, only to be vanquished.
…Like Michael Gove stabbing him in the back, lest we forget.
Ho ho ho.
As per tradition, the Queen invited him to form a government, which he accepted. He was then carted back to Number 10 to give his maiden speech – so far, so textbook.
But this is Boris we are talking about – nothing is ever as straightforward as that. There were a few… oddities… about his speech.
Firstly, it was held to the backdrop of anti-Brexit protestors screaming at the top of their lungs outside the gates to Downing Street, and pro-Brexit counter-protestors screaming right back at them.
I travelled to Downing Street myself yesterday to be met by chants of “BORIS IS A LIAR” to the backing track of “Killing In The Name Of” by Rage Against The Machine. British politics is fun.
Second, his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, already a target of excruciatingly intense media coverage following the release of her recorded bust-up with Boris, did not accompany him to the palace – she instead stood waiting with the rest of his staff outside the doors to No. 10.
While not a bad thing at all in and of itself, it is atypical for an incumbent Prime Minister to not appear with their partner… although Boris is still technically married to someone else, so that might be for the best.
Most importantly, his speech itself showed more than we thought it might – while there was little in the way of real substance, went on far too long, and was an oratory mess, it told us one, major thing: Boris means business on Brexit.
While many had suspected that Boris might play his cards a little closer to his chest in order to keep both sides of his warring party together for as long as possible, Boris doubled down on his commitment to leaving the EU by the 31st of October, and promised to negotiate a new deal.
Which the EU have said, repeatedly and clearly, will not happen.
But Boris was not done yet. Not by a long shot.
Collaborative Cabinet or All-Out War…drobe?
Boris didn’t reshuffle the Cabinet so much as disassemble it, lovingly stack it into a firepit, pour lighter fluid on it and burn it into ashes.
My God, it was a massacre. That sounds hyperbolic, but seventeen ministers were sacked or left of their own accord – a truly absurd number.
Look, I’ll go into more detail about the new Cabinet in a blog in the next few days and give you the lowdown on the new faces but the one thing to know is this:
This is not a collaborative government. There is not the width and breadth of ideological and political opinion in there that there was in May’s government.
This is a Brexit task-force.
And they face Mission Impossible.
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