All the news fit to post, two weeks early

It’s Christmas come early for Critic readers

Artillery Row

Readers may be aware that as Christmas approaches, news organisations like to write lots of stories in advance, so as to allow staff time off. They may be less aware that newsmakers follow a similar practice, stockpiling events through November and early December, to dribble out over the quiet festive spots.

Strict embargoes prevent us from revealing to you which celebrity is rota-ed to die at the end of the month (though we can reveal that it’s a real heart-breaker this year) but The Critic has obtained a copy of the responses to the prime minister’s dramatic Brexit deal, due to be secured at the last minute after some really nail-biting diplomacy.

Boris Johnson, rising in Parliament to Tory cheers: “Mr Speaker, with your permission I would like to update the House of my spanking victory over the Hun. As the House will know, this government wants only friendship with our European neighbours, and perhaps the occasional shag. But talks about our future trading relationship had been stuck, Mr Speaker, like a Land Rover in a muddy ditch. I’m not going to say that this was the fault of the garlic-munchers or the paella-swillers. But stuck we were, and so last week I had to get out and give the whole thing a bit of a shove. Now I am pleased to say that with the same can-do spirit that has seen this nation triumph throughout our history, from Hastings to Dunkirk, I have delivered trade in our time.”

Keir Starmer: “So here we finally are, Mr Speaker. The prime minister promised us the exact same benefits of EU membership, he promised us the easiest negotiation ever, and yet we find ourselves with lorries queueing at the border, waiting to fill in forms they haven’t seen. This is barely a deal at all, and will leave many of our industries in ruins. Nevertheless we will vote for it, because we need this issue out of the way just as much as you do.”

Boris Johnson, in reply: “Yeah, well, Mr Speaker, the Hon Gentleman may say all that, but I say he’s a swotty lawyer and smells of poo.” [Tory cheers.] “Also, if he thinks our deal is so bad, why is he going to vote for it, eh? Answer me that, bumface! Not you, Mr Speaker.” [Tory cries of “More! More!”]

Ian Blackford: “Does the prime minister not agree that this so-called trade agreement, this compact of cross-border rules, this deal negotiated with the European Union, that 27-member body of nations covering 1.6 million square miles and with a population of 447 million people …”

Bill Cash: “My committee will look with great interest at this agreement, but already I have deep concerns about paragraph 145, which I greatly fear poses the risk of reintroducing by the backdoor the Antwerp protocol of 1987, with all the tragic consequences of which this house will need no reminder beyond that which I am about to give them”

Assorted 2019-intake Tories: “Boris, Boris, he’s our man, if he can’t get a deal, no one can!”

Ian Blackford: “… founded as the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 but then expanded into the European Economic Community by the 1957 Treaty of Rome, originally comprising Belgium, France, Italy…”

Jacob Rees-Mogg: “Lars Porsena of Clusium, by the nine gods he swore, that the great house of Tarquin should suffer wrong no more. And like the great Porsena, the prime minister has sworn it and named a trysting day. And indeed bade his messengers ride forth, east and west and south and north, and has delivered us this magnificent deal. No, you need to talk to my agent, but I’m not doing the jungle thing. It’s the Strictly Christmastide Special or nothing.”

Iain Duncan Smith: “Now is not the time to read this document. Now is the time to denounce as a traitor anyone who does not celebrate my Right Honourable Friend’s magnificent achievement. The time to read this document will be next year, when I look forward to realising that it sells our birthright for a mess of potage, and demanding that the inadequate coward rewrites the whole thing.”

Steve Baker: [silently consults phone, adds names to a list in his notebook, and counts thoughtfully.]

Ian Blackford: “…and then expanded in 2004 to include Estonia, the Czech Republic…”

Michael Gove: “What do you need me to say? Might it be [an indistinct noise] simply appalling?”

Rishi Sunak: “Look, the PM did the best he could, and I’m certain that this is the best he could do. Cass, what’s the Instagram password again? Let’s put up the one of me mountain climbing. No, the other font, I think. I think it conveys being able to walk and breath at the same time, don’t you?”


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