So the Brexit debate is on. Sort of. The gauntlet has been thrown down by Theresa May and accepted by Jeremy Corbyn.

Viewers are in for a treat. Whats likely to be the most boring head-to-head in history will also be among the most confusing ever held.

On one side is the prime minister, a former Remainer transparently terrified at the potential chaos a hard Brexit could unleash, marshalling her talking points in favor of divorce.

On the other, a committed Europhobe who voted against joining the European Economic Community in 1975, secretly rejoiced at the referendum result and is now tying himself up in knots trying to stay consistent while rejecting Mays deal to keep his largely pro-European colleagues happy.

POLITICO has obtained a crystal ball, through which we invite you to gaze.

[insert shimmering cut here]

MODERATOR: “Good evening everyone, and welcome to the Great British Brexit Debate!”

[Muted audience applause]

MODERATOR: “My first question is for the prime minister: Theresa May, you voted to remain during the referendum. Do you believe Britain would be better off staying in the EU or leaving under the terms of your deal?”

Theresa May: “Well, um … Its my deal or no deal.”

MODERATOR: “With respect, that doesnt really answer the question.”

TM: “Strong and stable?”

MODERATOR: “I dont think were going to get any further with that one. Lets turn to you, Jeremy Corbyn. Your party is opposed to the prime ministers deal. Would you now prefer to remain in the EU?”

Jeremy Corbyn: “Good God, no.”

MODERATOR: “Well, many in your party would now like to see a second referendum with the option of staying in the EU on the ballot.”

JC: “I wouldnt go that far …”

MODERATOR: “How far would you go then, Mr. Corbyn? Exactly what is Labours Brexit policy now?”

JC: “Er, something about six tests?”

MODERATOR: “Do go on.”

JC: “Can I phone a friend? Keir? Keir? Where are you?”

MODERATOR: “Okay, lets go back to you, prime minister. What are you going to do if you cant get this deal through parliament?”

TM: “I am very clear that the deal we have negotiated with Brussels will pass through parliament, because it is very clear that the choice is between this deal and no deal. And that is very clear.”

MODERATOR: “But what if MPs do reject it?”

TM: “I am very clear that they will not reject it because rejecting this deal would mean no Brexit.”

MODERATOR: “So there would be a second referendum?”

TM: “No.”

MODERATOR: “OK, how about you, Mr. Corbyn — if you dont like the deal and you dont want a second referendum, how do you propose to proceed?”

JC: “Well, quite simply, we want a general election.”

MODERATOR and TM, screaming: “NOOOOOO!”

MODERATOR [recovering composure]: “Right, well, lets *shudder* assume there was a general election and Labour emerged as the biggest party. How would you proceed with Brexit, Mr. Corbyn?”

JC: “Well, for starters we would go back to Brussels and negotiate a far better deal than this ridiculous pile of nonsense.”

MODERATOR: “And why would the other EU nations pay more attention to you than to Mrs. May and her team, who have presumably wrung every available concession out of the other side over the past 18 months?”

[TM nods vigorously.]

JC: “They would listen to us.”


JC [slowly and patiently as if to an idiot]: “Because were nice socialists and theyre evil Tories!”

MODERATOR: “Returning to you, prime minister. It has been said of your Brexit deal that it has achieved the unique effect of pleasing nobody. Is there anyone in your own party who approves of it?”

TM: “Oh yes — Philip does.”

MODERATOR: “Philip Hammond, the chancellor?”

TM: “No … Philip May.”

MODERATOR: “Right … And Mr. Corbyn, some on your own side have accused you of a lack of enthusiasm when it comes to opposing Brexit. You took a holiday during the middle of the referendum campaign, thats hardly the action of someone committed to the cause.”

JC: “Look, I had already worked a 35-hour week; it was my statutory paid holiday, mine by rights as a worker.”

TM: “Isnt that an EU directive?”

MODERATOR: “Good point, prime minister — would you like to follow up on that?”

TM: “Thank you, I would just like to clearly say that its my deal or no deal, and I am very clear about that.”

MODERATOR: “Well, our time is nearly up, so if you havent got anything further to say to Mr. Corbyn, is there some message youd like to send to other Labour MPs to encourage them to support your deal? Or, indeed, to waverers on your own side?”

TM: “Yes, I would just say that this is a strong and stable deal in the interests of Britain and we are very clear that stability and strength will follow from this deal. Thank you.”

MODERATOR [wearily]: “And Mr. Corbyn, is there anything you would like to add?”

JC: “¡No pasarán!”

MODERATOR: “Thats all from us here in the Hammersmith Dog and Duck. Goodbye — and please, dont have nightmares.”

[Viewers collectively turn the sound back up in time for David Attenboroughs “Dynasties.”]

Read this next: Germanys (and Europes) future in their hands

Original Article

[contf] [contfnew]