16:13, September 24 71 0 theguardian.com

2019-09-24 16:13:04
The politics sketch  
 Nothing spoils a crisp New York morning like a supreme court ruling

In the final showdown between The Incredible Sulk and The Incredible Silk there could only be one winner. This time it was personal. Taking her seat as president of the supreme court, Lady Hale placed a black cap on her head. Part Bond assassin, part To the Manor Born.

Even though her voice crackled and broke as the live feed briefly went down, her judgment was crystal clear. No lawyers were required for interpretation.

It was a death sentence for the government’s credibility. More damning than anyone in Number 10 had feared. Boris Johnson had misled the Queen, the prorogation was unlawful and there was no need for parliament to be recalled because it could be considered to be still sitting.

The verdict had been unanimous. 11-0. Not even Lords Carnwath and Reed, whom the government had reckoned to be home team bankers as they had disagreed with the Article 50 judgment, could find a good word to say about The Sulk.

Andrea Leadsom’s assurances on the Today programme that the prime minister couldn’t possibly be guilty of any impropriety – the business secretary must have been in a medically induced coma for the past 25 years – didn’t age well.

Rising to leave the court, Hale removed her Black Widow brooch and stabbed Lord Keen, the government’s lawyer, through the neck. The poisoned tip would soon do its work.

Under the circumstances it was the kindest end for a man whose legal arguments had been cobbled together from a skimmed read of Constitutional Law for Dummies. As Keen gasped his last breath, Hale kicked off her shoes and poured herself a large scotch. It might only be 11am but it wasn’t every day you got to save the free world. Being a superhero could take it out of you.

Over in New York, The Sulk’s day was already going from bad to worse and he hadn’t even yet got out of bed. Minutes after the judgment, he had found himself on the wrong end of a Skype call with the Queen. Fair to say, Her Maj had been less than amused. “You promised you’d keep me out of it,” she had said. “I knew I should never have trusted you.”

“A lot of women have said that to me,” he had replied, before the line had inexplicably gone dead. Moments later, the phone rang again. This time it was Dominic Cummings.

Look on the bright side, the genius’s genius told him. He’d promised to overshadow the Labour party conference and he had delivered. He’d promised to get people to stop talking about the Sulk’s relationship with the American woman and claims he had bunged her a few grand.

And he’d delivered on that as well. He’d guaranteed the Tory conference would be a huge success by making sure it might not happen. Classic Dom. A man for all seasons. Though mostly for a nuclear winter.

The Sulk was running on empty. His eyes dead and his brain scrambled. He spoke but made little sense. Gibber, gibber, gibber. Like a murderer returning to the scene of a crime, he couldn’t help implicating himself. He respected the decision but the judges had got it wrong. He, the Incredible Sulk, knew more about the law than 11 of the country’s top judges.

There were dark forces at work determined to frustrate Brexit. Whoops. Not that the prorogation had ever been about Brexit. When you’ve told so many lies the truth inevitably becomes a moving target.

He was now a broken Christopher Walken in The Deer Hunter, reduced to playing Russian roulette with the country just to feel alive. A dealer looking for a hand so high and wild, he’d never need to deal another. An oppressed minority.

The hollowed-out Sulk even found himself cracking bad gags about cauliflowers to a group of startled US business leaders, insisting people obey the law while ignoring the fact he’d just been caught red-handed breaking it. Someone with any self-awareness would have realised that the reason he keeps getting swamped by clusterfucks is because he himself is King Clusterfuck. Someone with any integrity or self-worth would have resigned weeks ago. But he has neither. If he were to stop, he wouldn’t exist. The narcissist’s dilemma.

Down in Brighton the Labour party could hardly believe its luck. Its conference, which up till now had been dominated by infighting and stitch-ups, could suddenly find a common purpose as delegates stopped trying to take each other out and remembered that the Tories were their real enemy. For now. Old scores could be put on hold temporarily.

Well, all but one. Jeremy Corbyn hastily rearranged his leader’s speech for the afternoon so he could be back in Westminster when parliament reconvened on Wednesday. Thereby ensuring that Tom Watson’s speech got bumped. Much like last year. So sad. Alas, poor Tom. He knew him not so well.

The speech was a free hit for Corbyn. A chance to remind the country that he had greater credibility than the government: after all, he wasn’t the one who had been fingered by the supreme court. And he took it eagerly. First by trash talking The Sulk. The audience loved it and began shouting “Johnson out”. An instruction to which Boris generally needs no second invitation but at which Corbyn balked.

There was still no total clarity on Labour’s Brexit position or what he proposed to do in the coming weeks. Why break old habits? Instead, Corbyn stuck to his strengths. Spending money he didn’t know if he would actually have.

But then, as the Tories have declared austerity is over and are also making uncosted spending promises as if they were going out of style, you could hardly blame him. There was no illness that would go uncured. People would live forever. No one would have to work after the age of 75. Apart from him, if he were to serve a full term as prime minister.

Corbyn bathed in the acclaim, before inviting the shadow cabinet – even Watson – up to share the stage where they all danced awkwardly. A wedding party that would almost certainly end with everyone getting pissed and fighting. The new normal of British politics.

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