A soundbite from the tape recording of Prime Minister May’s first appointment interviews at Number 10 has come into the hands of Voice of the North.
Interview room, 10 Downing Street. Five-fifteen pm. Present: the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, and Sir Humphrey [surname redacted] her Permanent Secretary.
THERESA: I’m sorry, Sir Humphrey, but it just won’t work. Persuading Ken Clarke’s son to join the Cabinet just so we can present the press and public with a’ Top Gear’ government line-up of Clarke’s son, Hammond and May is superficially attractive but wildly over-imaginative. Are you turning into Alistair Campbell?
SIR H: It is a mite adventurous, ma’am, but think of it: a super-foreign affairs team with you at the helm racing around the globe in a variety of British cars to sort out the world’s hotspots . . . TV would LOVE it!
THERESA: There are no British cars any more, Humphrey. Now stop daydreaming and get Boris in here.
Interview paused. Boris Johnson enters in top hat and frock coat, smoking a Havana cigar and waving two fingers.
BORIS: Morning, Majesty. My new image, totally Churchillian. I DO so hope you approve?
THERESA: Get your tongue out of my kitten heels and LISTEN, Boris. I’m making you Foreign Secretary. [A wildly excited Boris does cartwheels around the interview room before coming to a halt at the PM’s feet, gazing adoringly up at her] That’s the good news; the bad bit is that your first diner date is with the EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
BORIS: Oh, please no, Your Eminence! You know how they hate me there since I outraged the French and the Germans by saying that the EU was doing what Hitler and Napoleon couldn’t. Can’t Foxy do it? Or that token Northerner, Davis the grammar school oik from the double-barrelled Yorkshire constituency?
THERESA: No, Boris. I have other plans for the Member for Howden and Haltemprice and they mostly involve digging us out of the hole you Brexiteers dug for us over there.
BORIS: B-but I thought Brexit meant Brexit, Exalted One?
THERESA: And No means No, Foreign Secretary. YOU will smooth things with the French and the Germans. AND repair the special relationship with our American allies. . .
BORIS: D’you mean what I said about never going to America in case I bumped into Donald Trump?
THERESA: . . . and the time you called George W. Bush “a cross-eyed Texan warmonger, unelected, inarticulate, who epitomises the arrogance of American foreign policy”?
BORIS: B-b-but that was when I was editing the Spectator. I didn’t even sign the editorial!
THERESA: You didn’t sign the article that claimed President Obama removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office, either. Didn’t you call it “a symbol of the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British empire, of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender”? You stirred up a hornets’ nest of racism accusations there, Boris.
BORIS: Well, we don’t have to worry about Obama for much longer, and Trump surely won’t spring any surprises, will he?
THERESA: You mean surprise as in “Shit, Govey! We won the EU referendum!”? Maybe not, but you still have some making-up to do. Don’t you remember likening Hillary Clinton to “a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital”?
BORIS: That’s unfair, Your Holiness. That was just journalism, I was writing in my Telegraph column . . .
THERESA: Ah yes, and being handsomely paid a £250,000-a-year fee you described as “chickenfeed”, if I remember rightly. You might consider giving that the go-by before you set off to cement Her Majesty’s good relations with our Third World Commonwealth cousins or building trade deals with China, our newest, most important post-Brexit marketplace which you helpfully pointed out had “never won a Nobel Prize on home turf” and whose leaders called you “arrogant, rude and disrespectful” when accepting the Olympic flag from China during the 2008 Games.”
BORIS: Ulp! Will that be all, Prime Minister?
THERESA: Almost, Boris. I see from my notes that you wrote a limerick referring to the Turkish president as “a terrific wankerer” (I suppose something had to rhyme with Ankara?). And you also appear to have claimed that “we in the Tory Party have become used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing”. Perhaps you would consider adding those two places to your first round-the-world apologia itinerary? Now off you trot and start packing, Boris. And ask Sir Humphrey to step in, would you?
BORIS: Yes, Prime Minister
Interview terminated at 5.25pm. Sir Humphrey enters.
THERESA: Humphrey, I’ve been thinking: how long would it take to find Ken Clarke’s son, get him a safe seat and parachute him into the Cabinet?
SIR H: No more than a couple of months, Prime Minister.
THERESA: Good. It might be easier than persevering with Boris, after all. Hmmm. . . Clarke’s son, Hammond and May. It DOES have a ring to it, doesn’t it?
SIR H: Yes indeed, Prime Minister.