In recent weeks, Theresa May has time and again boasted of her negotiation techniques. “Trust me,” she has croaked in the disembodied voice of one for whom the mind/body split is a pathology rather than a philosophical problem. “I will be getting a deal that is good for Britain.” At prime minister’s questions, we got some insight into just how tough a negotiator she might turn out to be.
It was Theresa’s bad luck that David Hodge, the leader of Surrey county council who, only the day before, had called off a planned referendum on increasing council tax by 15% to fund social care, was careless in his choice of Nicks. He had sent text messages to Nick Forbes, the Labour leader of the Local Government Association, rather than Nick King, a special adviser to the communities and local government secretary, Sajid Javid.
It was Jeremy Corbyn’s good luck that Nick Forbes had forwarded the texts to him. “How much money did the government promise the council to kill off the referendum?” enquired Jeremy Corbyn, thrilled to be presented with an open goal that not even he could miss.
Theresa shook her head. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, whose constituency – along with those of fellow cabinet members Philip Hammond and Chris Grayling – is in Surrey, turned crimson. “Alternative facts,” she babbled incoherently. “Alternative facts” is now the prime minister’s default response to any question she doesn’t want to answer. In Theresa’s meta world…