Today. An opulent meeting room somewhere in the city, in the ‘Metropolis’, the centre of all power and wealth. Designed to intimidate. Delegations from the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, (soon to be subject to an election) settle in their chairs, shuffle their papers and await the beginning of the meeting.
It is less than 48 hours since the Prime Minister of the UK made a speech at Lancaster House outlining a 12-point plan of her government’s intentions with regards to future trading relationships with the European Union.
The door opens and David Davis, the Minister charged with seeing the UK’s exit from the European Union through to its conclusion, walks into the room with his entourage of secretaries, assistant secretaries, advisors and a nervous looking David ‘Fluffy’ Mundell, the only elected Tory north of the border, hence his title of Secretary of State for Scotland. Many recall the days when office bearers of this title, whether Labour or Conservative, were considered to be honourably Scotland’s representative in government. This couldn’t be said of Mundell, who is clearly Westminster’s man in Scotland. Someone who one’s granny could easily describe as a ‘wee nyaff.’
David Davis: ‘Welcome everyone. There’s tea and coffee on the table, please help yourselves. This is a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee on Brexit, and we are here specifically today at the behest of the Scotch delegation. Can I hand you over to Michael Russell from the Scotch Executive, oops sorry, sorry, my mistake, Scotch government for more details, Mike? ‘
Michael Russell: ‘Thanks Minister. Yes, we thought we’d look to catch up this week just to see how things were going with the cabinet’s examination of the proposals we put forward before Christmas for alternative approaches to Brexit, protecting UK trade, and Scotland’s place in Europe. which the people of Scotland voted for in June last year. How is it going?’
David Davis: (Nervously looking around at his flunkies who are all shaking their heads, one is drawing a line across his own throat with his finger whilst coughing). ‘Erm, how do you mean old chap?’
Michael Russell: ‘The proposals we sent you, we sent 100 copies by courier, how are you getting on in terms of considering their content?’
David Davis: (Going a strange shade of red) ‘We didn’t get them. They never arrived. I was just saying to David the other day, I wonder what’s happened to Scotland’s alternative proposals. I think they must have changed their minds. Wasn’t I David?’
David Mundell: ‘Oh yes David. I distinctly remember you saying that. It was just after I’d served the shortbread at the cabinet meeting, and just before we watched the Jeremy Kyle show. Oh, yes I can clearly recollect that.’
Michael Russell; ‘That is curious. Somebody at Downing Street signed the receipt for the package so you must have got them.’
David Davis; (Looking like he needs to fart) ‘ Ahh. I can explain. That would have been old Herman. He’s been on the front desk there at number 10 for many years, a euro-national you know. We call him Herman the German. He really should retire. In fact we are sending him back soon (grins and sniggers from flunkies). He lost an entire cabinet briefing on Trident the other week. MI5 came across it in Bubbles Wine Bar in the West End a few days later. He’s lost the plot. Yes, that’s what must have happened. It got lost. Oh dear, what a shame. Never mind. Is there anything else you want to talk about?’
Michael Russell; ‘But you must have it. The Prime Minister mentioned it in her speech the other day.’
David Davis: ‘No she didn’t. I think you must have misheard her. Isn’t that right Scotch Secretary?’
David Mundell: (Who has been sitting with his fingers in his ears humming Land of Hope and Glory for the last five minutes) ‘Oh most definitely David. She never mentioned any proposals from Scotland. I clearly recall her majestic goddess-like prose, almost Churchillian it was, as she enthralled us with details and reassurances about our new global exciting Britain. I’ve never liked garlic. I would distinctly remember if she mentioned Scotland, because I’m from there, and she didn’t.’
David Davis; ‘See. You must be mistaken. Now before we move on to talking about how many checkpoints we’ll need at Dover, and how we are going to divvy up the costs for the barbed wire and electric fencing, have you Scotch representatives got any other questions. Hurry up, time is moving on?’
Michael Russell: ‘Yes, just one. In about three years-time, the date hasn’t been set yet, your Prime Minister will be attending a ceremony at Edinburgh Castle, where she’ll see a union flag slide down a pole and a blue and white saltire replace it. The First Minister is planning to wear a tartan suit that day, is there any particular colours she should avoid? She wouldn’t want to clash.’