Daily Mail

He yelled with such force I had to hold on to my spec­ta­cles

- Quentin Letts Theresa May · Land Rover · Tibet · Partido Unionista Democratico · Geoffrey Cox · Brian Blessed · Desmond Swayne · Nigel Dodds

WIL­LIAM Shake­speare’s lit­tle-known King Ge­of­frey IV, Part I was given its world pre­miere in the Com­mons yes­ter­day. Sen­sa­tional. A royal clash of tooth on stone! Bone splin­tered un­der blade – in ver­bal terms.

And such mag­nil­o­quence. The racket was so ter­ri­ble that BBC Par­lia­ment chan­nel en­gi­neers lis­ten­ing via their head­phones must have been quite dizzy by the end of it. Cot­ton wool for their eardrums, ma­tron.

Ge­of­frey Cox, At­tor­ney Gen­eral, was mak­ing a rare ap­pear­ance to de­fend Theresa May’s Brexit pro­posal. Mr Cox used his cre­den­tials as a Brex­i­teer to try to per­suade Tory back­benchers to back it. He may not have suc­ceeded but he de­liv­ered his lines with a for­tis­simo basso the­atri­cal­ity ul­tra Wolfit, supra Sin­den, and in deci­bel lev­els be­yond even Brian Blessed.

The con­trast with dreary Mrs May her­self? Ex­tra­or­di­nary.

Mr Cox is the one who gave a rous­ing in­tro­duc­tion to Madam Glum­bucket at the Tory party con­fer­ence. Yes­ter­day she was on be­fore him, and had done her usual busi­ness of bor­ing the House rigid. Mr Cox ar­rived at the oche a cou­ple of sec­onds late be­cause, be­ing a gen­tle­man, he had waited for her to leave the room in­stead of barg­ing past her. The House gave him some light-hu­moured gyp. He flour­ished a paw, thank­ing Mrs May for this time be­ing his warm-up act.

His open­ing state­ment rolled in like spray-haloed At­lantic break­ers. Bar­ris­ter Cox was re­lat­ing his le­gal opin­ion on the May deal. It was not quite the unedited ver­sion the House has de­manded but it was oro­tund and long-winded.

For those who have em­ployed bar­ris­ters, it sounded ex­pen­sive.

Cox is posh. He pro­nounces ‘House’ as ‘Hise’. ‘Our peo­ple’ be­comes ‘aaargh! peo­ple!’ Rumpole meets Man­ning­ham-Buller, as a Tory MP chum put it.

He speaks legalese not as a scriven­ing dullard but as a weapon of po­lit­i­cal heft. He coughs out phrases as a field gun dis­penses shells.

The words ‘ per­ad­ven­ture’, pru­dence’, ‘ ex­pa­ti­ate’, ‘ per­ti­nent’ go whistling to­wards enemy lines. One of the best things was watch­ing lightweigh­ts such as Si­mon Hoare (Con, N Dorset) nod along to it, pre­tend­ing they un­der­stood. Bluffers.

When Mr Cox says ‘ com­men­tary’, it be­comes ‘com­men­tar­rrry’, each of those Rs so rolled, it sounds like a Land Rover go­ing over a cat­tle grid. When he talks of the Ir­ish pro­to­col’ you won­der: ‘Proh To Col’ (maybe a peak in Ti­bet) or ‘Proat O’Col’ (pos­si­bly a Done­gal ac­cor­dion player)? All this time, he fid­dles with the seams of his gowns, plung­ing a hand into one pocket as though rum­mag­ing for a long-lost bag of pineap­ple chunks.

In his boom­ing way, Mr Cox ad­mit­ted that there was no uni­lat­eral way out of the Ir­ish back­stop Mrs May wants MPs to rat­ify.

‘So it’s a trap!’ cried ar­dent Leaver Sir Des­mond Swayne (Con, New For­est W). That heckle may have stung the old rhino. Later he charged into com­bat, roar­ing ‘I do NOT BE­LIEVE that we are likely to be en­trapped in it per­ma­nently.’ Down came his palm on the despatch box. WHACK! The House jumped. It was the noise a stage-coach ostler might have made when slap­ping the rump of a re­luc­tant nag. MANY Labour MPs and Tory Brex­i­teers be­came hung up on the Gov­ern­ment’s re­fusal to pub­lish that full le­gal ad­vice. Mr Cox bel­lowed that it was not in the na­tional in­ter­est for ev­ery­thing to be pub­lished: e.g. would the Com­mons in­sist on all in­tel­li­gence pa­pers be­ing pub­lished? No! So why make such a de­mand about this?

Nigel Dodds, leader of the DUP at West­min­ster, pointed out that the May deal, with its back­stop, meant that Euro­pean lawyers, not par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, would hence­forth de­cide on the sovereignt­y of our once proud king­dom.

Mr Cox yelled – with such force that I had to hold on to my spec­ta­cles – that he had wres­tled with this tor­ment. Any threat to the Union, ‘I DIS­LIKE!’ But, er, yes. There was no get­ting away from that bru­tal, fiendish, sovereignt­y- shred­ding truth. The back­stop is aw­ful.

Cox felt it was worth it. Oth­ers will dis­agree.

 ??  ?? Break­fast TV: Theresa May on ITV’s This Morn­ing show yes­ter­day
Break­fast TV: Theresa May on ITV’s This Morn­ing show yes­ter­day
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