History will remember Sir James Dyson as the pioneer of the bagless vacuum-cleaner. Thanks to his genius, we are now able to interrupt our chores and stare in amazement at mini-tornados of dust and filth swirling around in a transparent cylinder. This void of rubbish has been exported all over the world – not unlike our parliamentary system. But its knighted creator made an error this week when he announced that Singapore is to be the new home of his world HQ. This looks like an endorsement of the EU which has just struck a trade-deal with Singapore. The Bagless Wonder is supposed be a Brexiteer.
Tory backbencher James Gray leapt to his defence. The suavely-dressed and sad-voiced MP reminded the house that Sir James has splurged cash all over the place. First he shovelled money into a training programme. Then he sank £200m into new manufacturing infrastructure. It didn’t wash. Labour backbenchers jeered merrily.
This was the highlight of a sepulchral session. For once, the Speaker spared his vocal chords and neglected to bray like a donkey at MPs. The real manoeuvres seem to be taking place elsewhere, in the cabal-infested corridors.
The party leaders spoke a lot and said little. Theresa May repeated her plan for a cross-party peace conference. ‘I’d be happy to sit down and talk with him,’ she beamed at Jeremy Corbyn. It sounded like an invitation to play dollies. Corbyn declined. Officially he claims that getting No Deal off the table is the sticking-point. Really it’s about political theatre. Shots of the bearded Bolivar walking into Downing Street to parley with Maggie’s successor would wreck his hard-left credentials.
Stephen Kinnock tried to solve Brexit in two words. ‘Norway Plus’, he said, in his father’s voice, hoarse and scolding at the same time. Kinnock Jnr also muttered the words ‘customs union’ and ‘single market’ and hoped no one would hear.
Craig Tracey spoke about the absurdity of re-staging the referendum. Supporters of a People’s Vote argue that the electorate in 2016 had no idea what the referendum meant. Which is true. They hadn’t a clue that Remain started a goal ahead and that the Leave majority was just an equaliser. Tracey was followed by Ian Blackford of the SNP who believes that all political ills can be solved by a second referendum. In fact he wants two Second Referendums. One on Scottish independence and another on Brexit. It’s not clear which should come first. Obviously a referendum would help. But the final result would emerge only after the first vote had been cancelled in favour of a re-run.
Peter Bone looked supremely fed up today. The rustle of amused expectation that usually greets his interventions was absent. Ignoring protocol, he rudely addressed the PM as ‘you’ and asked her to replace Remain ministers with Brexit-backers.
‘I’ve heard some job applications in my time,’ said May.
A long while back, Bone spoke of raising a statue to the PM in his Welling constituency. These days he’d prefer a wooden Maybot soaked in paraffin.
After 40 minutes the house was thinning out. The Speaker called Tim Farron of the Lib Dems who didn’t bother asking a question. He just invited the entire gang to flock upstairs to the Jubilee Rooms where Cumbria Day was being celebrated. Foaming ales, gristly sausages and meat-crammed pies were being passed out to all-comers. The banquet was masterminded by two deadly foes – Cumbria Tourism and Taste Cumbria – who had nobly agreed to suspend their differences and work together for once. Not a bad idea.