Number 10. Prime Minister’s Office. 17th February 2019.
Prime Minister at her desk, prepping for PMQs. Enter Private Secretary.
PS. Prime Minister, the children are going on strike.
PM. Which ones? Labour or our lot?
PS. No, no Prime Minister, the school children. They’re going on strike.
PM. Oh for goodness sake! Isn’t there already enough to be worrying about? What are they going on strike for?
PS. They’re having a day of strike action in protest at the lack of action on climate change.
PM. Are they allowed to do that?
PS. Well, strictly speaking no Prime Minister. But it’s difficult. If we ignore it then we’ll be seen as out of touch. If we register it and condemn it then we’ll be seen as reactionary and out of touch. And if we condone it then we’ll be seen as out of touch and over-reacting by the teaching establishment, who’ll accuse us of not appreciating the pressures they are already under and demand a review of the curriculum and resourcing.
PM. What do you suggest?
PS. I think it’s a one-liner from you to point out that the best way to prepare for the future is to study hard, and then send in Perry with a statement about how the UK is leading the world on intent and action.
PM. How can we be leading a lack of action? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
PS. Well strictly speaking it is Prime Minister. But to be fair, there is mileage in being seen to be doing not enough less slowly than everyone else. At the same time we could leak the latest overspend on the carrier budget to the Mail as a diversion and…
PM. Is there an overspend on the carrier budget?
PS. Well strictly speaking no Prime Minister. The ships are on budget, after strippages and adjustment by the Treasury. But there is a lack of provision for any aircraft.
PM. Banging head on desk. Oh goodness, goodness me!
PS. Well it’s not that serious Prime Minister. We can get some on eBay I’m sure.
PM. I’ve got an idea.
PS. Yes, Prime Minister?
PM. Isn’t it the case that sea levels are going to rise as a result of climate change?
PS. Massively, Prime Minister. Whole communities could be wiped out. South Thanet is looking particularly vulnerable.
PM. That’s a safe Tory seat.
PS. Indeed Prime Minister.
PM. This is more serious than I thought. How about this? Transfer the budget for the carriers from the MOD to BEIS and re-role them as climate change relief ships. That way they could operate usefully all around the world and won’t need any fast jets. And it would teach young Williamson a lesson for being so lippy with the Chinese.
PS. Yes Prime Minister. Inspired.