First as tragedy. Then as farce. Finally as sheer batshit craziness. Even by her own standards, this was a new low. The prime minister cannot now even win what should have been a gimme, something with which she fundamentally agrees. Having resorted to whipping against the motion she had championed the day before, after her attempts to get the Caroline Spelman amendment pulled had failed, she now found herself on losing territory again. On current form you would back Theresa May to come second in a one-horse race.
The losses are taking their toll. As she rose to explain her latest defeat, it became clear an arm had fallen off. A manically rotating eyeball was dangling out of its socket. Her voice still no more than a hollow, metallic rasp. The sound of a 1980s computer testing the beta version of a language script. Possibly English.
She had listened to the house, she croaked. This was a lie, a programme error. Her entire career has been based on never listening to anyone. She is the Maybot, coded on a stubborn, solipsistic loop. She has only ever heard what she wants to hear: the voices in her head.
She had listened and basically she had won. Her deal was still the best deal, even though it had been twice voted down by Brexiters more consumed by self-harm and self-loathing than delivering Brexit.
May is now a leader in name only. Lino. Too weak even to sack ministers who abstained or voted against her three-line whip. The Commons has descended into near anarchy, a wild west with every man and woman for themselves. Particularly on the Tory benches, where party loyalty has almost completely broken down. So much so that virtually every vote is now in effect a free vote.
Even cabinet unity is a distant memory. Something Philip Hammond made no attempt to conceal during his spring statement. Normally these occasions are red letter days in parliament, but with the general level of clusterfuckery at Defcon 1 this was a total non-event. Ordinarily the chancellor puts only his audience to sleep: today he almost managed to get himself to nod off as well while announcing the important acquisition of a new computer in Edinburgh.
Then Hammond went rogue. Who cared if Lino was sitting next to him? She didn???t count anyway. It was time to level with the country. The statement was a waste of time. He couldn???t say what was going to happen in the next two weeks, let alone make a stab at what might happen in six months??? time.
If we left the EU with a deal then we???d all be a bit more broke than we otherwise would have been. But if we left with no deal then we were totally screwed. Might as well give up and kill ourselves. So Lino could shove her deal. Now was the time for the government to work with the opposition on what might get through parliament. His door was open. With her one remaining functioning eye, Lino gave her former colleague a death stare ??? an effort that caused her circuit board to crash entirely.
With the woman who couldn???t listen now transformed into the woman who couldn???t move ??? let alone speak ??? it was left to Michael Gove to open the debate on taking no deal off the table for the government. Not exactly the ideal man for a crisis, as he is not someone given either to self-doubt or conscience. He is the almost complete political sociopath, someone who invariably finds that his principles bend to his own advantage. Most people wouldn???t trust him with their Nectar card, let alone a government department. In recent weeks he has gone out of his way to keep as low a profile as possible while the shit hit the fan. Just in case the fan were to hit the shit.
The environment minister began by paying tribute to the prime minister. She was a brilliant, brilliant woman who had never put a foot wrong. This was the kind of eulogy that invariably precedes an assassination, and sure enough Gove went on to use the next hour as his audition for the top job.
First he went out of his way to distance himself from any responsibility for the current situation ??? no, no, no, he???d never told any porkies during the Vote Leave campaign ??? and then he tried to reassure MPs that though it was the government???s default position to leave with no deal, leaving with no deal was the last thing he and anyone else in government wanted. Even when he???s trying to be sincere, he just sounds glib. A Poundland playground populist. Then he went for the big pitch. He too was open to offers of cross-party indicative votes. So forget Hammond, ring him instead. The Lino was an ex-Lino. His self-regard was almost total. Whether he believed a word he said was anyone???s guess.
Keir Starmer, Yvette Cooper, Jess Phillips and Dominic Grieve all spoke with passion and clarity, but some of the rest of the debate was taken over by the idiocracy. While Crispin Blunt and John Baron insisted that all the businesses in their own constituencies wanted was the certainty of going bust on 29 March, Iain Duncan Smith and Steve Baker pushed the fantasy of the Malthouse compromise that had already been ruled out by the EU. Give it time and they will gradually get to 2019.
In his winding-up speech, Liam Fox sounded so deranged it sounded as if he was going to vote against the motion for which he was notionally speaking in favour. No deal. No surrender. Remember the Faroe Island deal. Mad. Even by his standards.
Then came the vote. Things fall apart. Again. The entire country reduced to a third-rate reality freak show. An international laughing stock. Anarchy in the UK. We mean it, man!