This really does look to be coming our way. Theresa May has said she would like to debate Jeremy Corbyn on the television, on the merits or lack thereof of her deal with the EU. I’ve been trying to imagine what such a debate would look like – I can confirm that such a thing terrifies me.
For a start, it really looks like May repeating a major mistake of the 2017 general election campaign, i.e. over-estimating her own debating abilities whist simultaneously underestimating Corbyn’s. Perhaps she feels like Corbyn has no fixed position and can thus be knocked over easily. Again, by a skilled debater, perhaps, but again, we all know about May’s weaknesses in this department. Here’s a left-field possibility: it is just about possible that the prime minister has spent the last two and half years spouting taglines inhumanly in order to lull Corbyn into a false sense of security. Somehow, I doubt it, but in this day and age, who knows?
Right, so what will it sound like then, this matching of “wits”?
MAY: I have worked hard to get to a deal that delivers the Will of the People (®), so I ask you Jeremy Corbyn, why won’t you get behind my red, white and blue Brexit?
CORBYN: This doesn’t deliver on the Will of the People (©) at all and furthermore, does not deliver on the Jobs First Brexit (®) that Labour will deliver in some way we’ve never specified and sounds mostly like made up rubbish.
MAY: My red, white and blue Brexit will deliver on the Will of the People, although I’m not going to tell you exactly why this sounds like almost the literal opposite of what I said Brexit was going to be like in January 2017.
CORBYN: Elect a Labour government and get a Jobs First Brexit. Or possibly no Brexit, although I’m only transmitting this particular sentence on a mysterious wavelength that only Remainers can understand.
DIMBLEBY: We all heard that, Jeremy, I’m afraid….
Yes, it will be pretty grim. Are there positives to this Brexit debate taking place? Well, perhaps the event will deal us some big surprises. Maybe Corbyn will use it to come out for Remain (I really, really doubt it, but I guess you never know). Perhaps May will be really good (again, I really doubt it). Maybe it will be a moment of truth for the country, when vast swathes of people are suddenly convinced that perhaps Brexit isn’t such a good idea at all and further, that we’d all be better off if Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn both retired sometime in the next week or so. Again, unlikely, but in this day and age, who knows?