‘Claudio Ranieri says he doesn’t want to be Prime Minister.’
The PM looked at Godfrey in surprise. Well, I say surprise but it was nearer anger. He put down the muffin he had been eating and prepared to shoot the messenger. Then he remembered it was bad form to shoot the messenger, so he thumped the desk instead. It would have been such a coup to have the Leicester genius take over the country. So unexpected, the BBC and all the MPs would have been completely wrong-footed. It would have been a final master-stroke.
‘He’d rather tell eleven men how to run around a pitch than rule England?’
‘Yes.’ Godfrey nodded. His rebellion had been a long time coming, but it suddenly arrived. ‘Although being PM isn’t really ruling. And it’s the United Kingdom, at least at the moment. I can’t see Scotland staying much longer, Northern Ireland is as good as gone and Wales will wake up when they realise England is just dragging them down. They’re already better than us at football.’
The PM had been thinking of giving Godfrey more responsibility. Indeed he had been moments away from handing him a message to take to the Cabinet Office! He changed his mind abruptly. He could do without this stress. He needed to relax.
‘Crazy. Go and warm my swimming trunks.’
Godfrey shook his head.
‘Prime Minister, the country is in crisis.’
The PM finished the muffin and then wished he hadn’t eaten it. He considered funding some scientists to create a muffin that was good for you, but remembered the trouble he’d had when trying to divert funds to develop a healthy cigarette. People had no imagination.
‘Nonsense! It’s a small blip, a mere Castillon on the way to Agincourt!’
‘Can’t I do something more useful than warm your trunks?’
‘Godfrey, that is a vital job. Have you ever put on a pair of un-warmed trunks? Horrible. I believe that in ancient Egypt the Pharaoh’s trunks warmer was a revered man. He was often allowed to be buried with the Pharaoh if he was lucky.’
‘I’m sure it’s in the British Museum somewhere. Run along. And watch out for the killer bees! ’
Godfrey shook his head and headed down to the basement. Carlton pressed a button on his desk and waited for Keswick to enter.
‘Ranieri has said no,’ he announced. Keswick nodded, grateful that that mad idea had been thwarted.
‘That’s a shame Prime Minister. So the new PM will have to be someone in Parliament. I’ve been taking soundings-‘
‘There’s Arsene Wenger-‘
‘Enough football managers, Carlton!’
The PM nodded.
‘Sorry. I got carried away. I still think Ranieri would play a blinder. Alright, who should my successor be?’ He looked around the oak-walled office and stared at the portrait of himself that he had had commissioned to celebrate something that he had already forgotten. What a statesman he was! No one could step into his shoes without finding that they didn’t fit. Unless they took a nine and a half. He realised he would miss the office. And the power. What would he do all day? Maybe resigning had been a mistake.
‘I would say Pimlico. But Swotten wants to stand…’
‘Swotten? tell him he can’t. Anyway I’m thinking of unresigning.’
‘Unresigning?! That would be an unexpected twist. But think of all the negotiating with the EU.’
‘You’re right. Scrub that idea.’ Carlton’s mind swam with the horrors of European negotiations. He was definitely better off on a beach in the Bahamas. He’d miss everyone doing what he said though. ‘Phone Swotten and tell him it’s out of the question.’
‘Unfortunately it isn’t out of the question. It’s up to the pesky members. We have to put it to a vote.’
Carlton shook his head in dismay.
‘Not again! Democracy is the worst thing that was ever invented by anyone. Hitler got elected by a democracy!’
‘I’m not sure. I think so. Possibly. If democracy allows people to elect Hitler then it should be banned. If we’ve learned anything this week it’s don’t ask the people anything. Our job is to govern and theirs is to be governed.’
‘A lesson we’ve learned just too late.’
‘This is a country of illiterate buffoons. Godfrey has just told me that the day after the EU referendum the most searched for term on Google was ‘What is the EU?’ I can’t work with people like this. I need a new country. I might go and live in Spain.’
‘You can’t. We’ve left the EU. But there is a way round having an election.’
‘All we have to do is run a black ops campaign to denigrate Swotten and if he’s got any sense he’ll resign before we have to have an election. Our choice will win without an election. Pimlico will be coronated.’
‘Is that a word?’
‘Language develops, Carlton.’
The PM made a decision.
‘Send in the SAS.’
by Richard Hunt