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Brexit: Where's Barbara Cartland's magic acorn when you need it?

THERE are no words - quite the technical hitch when it comes to writing - to do justice to the single greatest political calamity of our generation. This Reporter considered instead using expressionist art or shadow puppetry. She would make a concerted effort at it for five minutes before setting fire to the whole damn lot - as symbolism.
As alternative, let's start with the bare-boned facts of the matter. Prime Minister Theresa May lost her second meaningful vote on her Brexit deal in Parliament on Tuesday night by a stonking 391 votes to 242. Not the complete annihilation of meaningless vote part numero one, but still an almost unprecedented disaster.
David Cameron, tracked down at his lair, said: "I don't understand why MPs who have always wanted Brexit keep voting against it". Well David, sometimes people do the most unfathomable of things don't they. But back to the facts.
Mrs May's promise of votes on No Deal and Article 50 extension are coming up next. A toss up then between hurling ourselves off a cliff and more time for MPs to prat around.
Now to mosey back in time in manner of inquest, to see how it came to this...
Late night Monday - "I've got it", Mrs May tumbles into view on satellite link up, broadcasting live to the House of Commons. She is in Strasbourg waving a piece of paper manically above her head.
"I've got it", she garbles, again, "the changes to the Irish backstop. You said I needed to get them. I've got them. See."
She slaps the piece of paper onto a nearby table and immediately takes up runner's recovery position - bent double, hands braced on knees, panting. The camera zooms forward, gives an almost imperceptible double take, before focusing in to reveal a missive in purple wax crayon. In EU chief Jean Claude Juncker's handwriting, it reads: "The backstop will be temporary".
Much was made of this new development in the national newspapers. An 11th-hour triumph for Mrs May; a "legally binding" alteration to the Irish backstop, such as MPs had been clamouring for, before they would even think of voting for her deal.
Here's the glaring problem. (Yes there was one - funnily). What MPs had been promised by Mrs May back in January was one of these three joys - a unilateral exit mechanism, so the UK could get out of the backstop without the EU's permission, a time limit, or a replacement with an alternative arrangement, written - crucially - into the actual Withdrawal Agreement. Not this "legally binding" add-on, which pushes the capabilities of quotation marks to the limits of imploding.
The matter was formally referred to MP and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox for him to run his professional eye over it and he concluded - direct quote - it was "bollocks". So all looked good for the meaningful vote later that day (Tuesday).
The mood was not downbeat in all quarters. One Tory MP was heard telling Mrs May: "I was looking for you to bring a rabbit out of the hat - you've managed a hamster. It's good enough for me".
As we all know however, what everyone else thinks is immaterial. It all, inexplicably, boiled down to how Tory hardliners the ERG and "here's what we think of a billion pound for our loyalty" the DUP, planned to vote. Just hours to go and it was announced they would be voting against Mrs May's deal, so that was rather that.
And then in glorious poetry, Mrs May started to lose her voice as she addressed the Commons one final, desperate, time ahead of the vote, taking us neatly back in mood and timbre to the Tory Conference 2017 where, in hindsight, she really should have accepted that P45.
She croaked: "This is the moment and this is the time - time for us to come together, back this motion and get the deal done. Because only then we can get on with what we need to do, what we were sent here to do." The rest as they say, is history.
As is this...It has been revealed that former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher consulted romantic fiction author Barbara Cartland for alternative remedies and lucky charms for her health. It was Ms Cartland who came to the Iron lady's aid in 1989, the year her popularity waned over the poll tax, with the gift of the "magic acorn".
The nut - according to unearthed letter exchanges between Ms Cartland and Mrs Thatcher - originated from an oak tree in the garden of Ms Cartland's estate in Hertfordshire. Reputedly planted by Queen Elizabeth I on shooting her first stag there, Ms Cartland believed the oak tree to have magic powers.
The unavoidable question is this - would things have panned out any differently if Mrs May had had access to the magic acorn?
All things considered - probably not.

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