It was the biggest budget U-turn since the last biggest budget U-turn. It wasn’t Pastygate — it was Hammondgate.
All the Captain had to do was place the ball firmly in the back of the net — and the keeper had gone for an early lunch.
Jeremy fired and the ball soared out of the stadium.
It was all meant to be so different. The Labour Party had the government and it’s Chancellor firmly by the short and curlies.
It was only a week since Philip Hammond had offended all his MPs and anyone in Fleet St to the right of Genghis Khan.
Even No 10 dumped on the man next door over his announcement of a rise in National Insurance for the self-employed.
Jeremy had spent the morning closeted with his chums working out the six biting questions that would expose chaos at the centre of government.
Prime Minister’s Questions were at 12 noon and even his normally indifferent back benchers were up for the embarrassment that was bound to follow.
Then, just before 12, the government announced they were scrapping the plan.
Jeremy is not fleet of foot and he was definitely not fleet of brain and mouth today.
Indeed, it looked as the two were unconnected as he embarked on a match strategy already out of date.
The PM kicked off PMQs by announcing Hammondgate was off.
Tory MPs went beserk at the disappearance of this, ‘the most embarrassing government plan since the last most embarrassing government plan’.
Having spent the whole week to up NI as “sensible” and “fair” they were now happy to hit the streets saying it had been stupid and crazy.
As Mrs May announced the news, Chancellor Hammond sat there with a face like a slapped arse.
This was it; Jeremy got to his feet. opened his mouth and nothing of any relevance came out.
With his brain still firmly fixed on Plan A — increasing NI — Plan B — not doing it — was not in his script.
As he fumbled through his attack on what the government was not doing Tory MPs shouted the house down.
Labour MPs took on the look of shock, horror which has accompanied many of their leader’s appearances at PMQs.
Meanwhile Mrs M and her one time buddy Phil H took on the demeanour of two people who could not believe their luck.
Within two minutes of Jeremy standing up, it was Labour in trouble and not the Tories.
Smelling blood, the bover boy on Tory backbenchers bayed loud enough to stop the traffic in White Hall.
Jeremy became increasingly agitated as he tried — and failed — to swap Plan A for any other that would get him out of trouble.
In fact by the end of his contribution the inhabitants of No10 and No11 Downing St seemed to be best buddies again.
Indeed, 15 minutes into PMQs “the biggest U-turn in history” seemed to have been forgotten.
It was Scots Nats leader, Angus Robertson who said what Jeremy should have said it was “a screeching, embarrassing U-turn”.
Labour MPs looked longingly at a man they’d swap for in an instant.
Then Angus mentioned the Scottish refendum and life moved on.
“U-turn_4504” flickr photo by Omar Omar https://flickr.com/photos/omaromar/11633483155 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license