WHO WILL TELL?
A(NOTHER) PLAY BY EXCELPOPE
INT. A MEETING ROOM, LATE AFTERNOON.
THERESA MAY, BORIS JOHNSON, DAVID DAVIS, MICHAEL GOVE AND LIAM FOX SIT AROUND THE TABLE, WHICH IS LITTERED WITH PAPERS, WATER GLASSES, COFFEE JUGS.
THEY SIT IN SILENCE. A CLOCK TICKS IN THE BACKGROUND.
DAVIS SURREPTITIOUSLY LOOKS AT HIS WATCH.
A FEW SECONDS PASS
GOVE TAKES A SIP OF HIS COFFEE AND THEN MAKES A FACE, IT’S OBVIOUSLY COLD.
A FEW MORE SECONDS TICK BY
JOHNSON FLAPS HIS LIPS WITH HIS FINGERS.
FOX STIFLES A YAWN
ANOTHER FEW SECONDS OF SILENCE.
MAY: We’re going to have to tell them we can’t do it.
DAVIS: Steady on, perhaps we should think about it a bit longer. It’s only 5 o’clock.
MAY: We’ve been thinking about this since last June. It’s hard to believe another half-an-hour is going to crack it.
JOHNSON: We can’t tell them we can’t do Brexit! They’ll string us up from the bloody lampposts.
DAVIS: Exactly. We need to think of something…even if we’re here until six.
JOHNSON: Actually, I’ve got theatre tickets for this evening.
FOX: Oh, anything good?
JOHNSON: Punch and Judy.
MAY: Gentlemen! We need a border with the Republic of Ireland that is impenetrable to some people and invisible to others. We need to keep planes in the air and lorries off the M20. We need to comply with EU standards, while being completely free to make up our own. We need replacements for the European agencies that are leaving and the thousands of references to them in UK laws, which need to stay. We need to come up with dozens of new trade deals, in 16 months, that are better than the ones that took years and we need to finally, once and for all, get rid of that sodding Human Rights Act because, god help me, I am getting something out of all of this!
They all sit in silence, looking downcast.
MAY: So, can we do it?
JOHNSON, FOX, GOVE AND DAVIS [TOGETHER]: No.
MAY: Then we have to tell them we can’t do it.
JOHNSON: That’s awfully brave of you, old girl.
MAY: If I do it you’ll back me, won’t you?
GOVE: I’ll be right behind you, Prime Minister.
MAY puts her head in her hands.
MAY: Oh god, you’re going to push me out if I do it.
GOVE: Look, it’s a foreign issue. Clearly a job for the Foreign Secretary.
JOHNSON: Et two, Bruté!
DAVIS: I agree with him. FO matter, through and through.
JOHNSON: Really? Isn’t there a whole department for exiting the EU?
JOHNSON: Look, Theresa’s going to have to sack whichever of us says we can’t do it, but if we can’t do it then you’re going to lose your job anyway, so you might as well step up to the block…er, plate.
DAVIS: But if we’re not leaving then we don’t need him either [he points at Fox] and he’s done the square-root of FA since the vote, anyway, so he should announce it.
FOX: Would you really sack me for saying we can’t do it, PM?
MAY [NODDING, SADLY]: I’d have to, Liam. I can’t have that sort of insubordination from a cabinet member.
FOX: But if I said we can’t do it, then you sacked me, wouldn’t that make it look like you still thought we could do it?
JOHNSON: He’s got a point, old girl. If it doesn’t come from you then it looks like it’s not official. Ball very much back in your court.
MAY: It can’t be me. I’m a remainer. If I do it then the frothers will think it was personal. We’ll have Farage in Number 10 inside a year. It has to come from a leaver.
JOHNSON: You’re right. How about Michael? He had a lot to say about how great leaving was going to be.
GOVE: No, I can’t be sacked. There’s so much to do at the environment.
JOHNSON: David or Liam can do the environment. Rumour is they’ll be looking for new jobs.
GOVE: They can’t replace me. I was the face of ‘Clean for the Queen’, people trust me with the environment.
DAVIS: The only thing the British people trust about you is that you’ve got the face they’d most like to punch.
FOX: We could announce it together. A joint press conference. It’s always good to have your friends around you.
DAVIS: Can we get pizza?
FOX: At the press conference?
DAVIS: No, now.
GOVE: Every meeting we’ve been in for the last week you’ve asked about food. You’re obsessed.
DAVIS: I haven’t been eating well at home, I [mumbles]
JOHNSON: He said he renegotiated his gas supply. You’ve been cut off haven’t you, old boy?
MAY puts her head back into her hands.
MAY: Oh god.
FOX: Look, if we do a press conference perhaps we could get Jacob up there with us. Give us some credibility with the young voters.
DAVIS: Not a bad idea. You’ll have to speak to him, Boris.
JOHNSON: Why me?
DAVIS: He only speaks in Latin now.
MAY: Jacob’s never going to get involved in this. If one of you lot doesn’t replace me then it will be him.
JOHNSON: It might not be. It might be Amber.
MAY: Amber? She’s one jump-scare in Murder, she wrote away from losing her seat.
DAVIS: Well, even if it’s Jacob, he’s still going to end up where we are. He won’t believe Brexit’s possible for very long.
MAY: Are you sure? He still believes in a literal virgin birth.
JOHNSON: That’s the very opposite of our situation. The virgin birth is where we got something good without anybody getting f…
MAY: BORIS! Boris, this isn’t helping.
DAVIS: Look, this is a bit off-the-wall, but we could say that what with our narrow majority, and all, that this needs a co-ordinated effort. Propose a national government. Get Jeremy and his mob on-board with this.
There is silence.
MAY: David [pause] How do you imagine that’s going to help?
DAVIS: Well…misery loves company.
MAY: I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been miserable enough to welcome Jeremy’s company, and hard to imagine that, even if I did, it would make me less miserable.
FOX: Jeremy’s out, then?
GOVE: Wait a minute! Brexit is going to cause a lot of medical problems, isn’t it? Funding for the NHS, radiation stuff for cancer, medical research, and so on…and there’s more than one Jeremy.
MAY: Michael, are you suggesting that we give this job to Jeremy Hunt?
GOVE: Jeremy has my full support.
MAY: Excellent. Can somebody get the health secretary on the phone, please? So many people are going to love his promotion to Secretary of State for Exiting Brexit, aren’t they?
GOVE, FOX, JOHNSON, DAVIS [TOGETHER]: Yes, Prime Minister.
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