I have 'strong' Cabinet, says May, apparently in all seriousness

Prime minister Theresa May, apparently being serious

Theresa May has insisted she has a "strong" Cabinet ahead of its Brexit showdown, in remarks she appeared to actually believe.

The prime minister seemed to genuinely praise her team after Tory Brexiteer, Cabinet minister and badger botherer Owen Paterson suggested she judge her ministers against the election promise that the UK would leave the single market, customs union and European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Mrs May is trying to find a compromise that will secure support from both wings of her warring Cabinet at a meeting at her country residence on Friday.

During PMQs in the Commons, Mr Paterson said: "President Macron has ordered that every one of his Cabinet ministers should be subject to a performance review.

"When the Prime Minister meets her Cabinet on Friday will she judge every one of their contributions and the final deal that they decide against the very clear criteria laid down in the Conservative manifesto and the Labour manifesto which got 85% of the votes, that we will categorically be leaving the single market, the customs union and the remit of the ECJ?"

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Mrs May replied: "I'm pleased to say we have a strong team of the Cabinet who will be taking this decision on Friday.

"And can I assure [Mr Paterson] that the Brexit that this government will be delivering and is working to deliver is a Brexit that ensures that we are out of the customs union, we are out of the single market, we are out of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, we are out of the Common Agricultural Policy, we are out of the Common Fisheries Policy, we bring an end to free movement, we take control of our borders, we have an independent trade policy and that we are also able to have a good trade arrangement with the European Union, protecting jobs and prosperity of the future."

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That "strong team" to which Mrs May was referring contains:

Boris Johnson, who has made a string of offensive gaffes worldwide as foreign secretary, reportedly responded to business concerns to the government's approach to Brexit with "f*** business" and last week made a flying visit to Afghanistan for an unnecessary meeting in order to avoid a parliamentary vote on an airport expansion he had previously vowed to lie down in front of bulldozers to block.

David Davis, the Brexit secretary dubbed by an Irish minister as "the tea boy" for his lack of diplomatic clout, who was revealed this week to have spent just four hours in meetings with his supposed counterpart Michel Barnier, has threatened to resign on numerous occasions and last week released a bizarre online video which looked like he was being held hostage.

Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary who, in his brief tenure at the MoD, has told Vladimir Putin to "go away and shut up", threatened Mrs May through the press that "I made her and I can break her", been pulled off air by Richard Madeley after repeatedly avoiding questions, gave another live interview with an elephant walking past and, yesterday, demonstrated that, as the man nominally in charge of the UK's nuclear deterrence, he doesn't know how to switch his own phone off.

Liam Fox, the international trade secretary and disgraced former defence secretary who nobody has seen for two years.

Chris Grayling, the transport secretary who, after all his chaotic reforms at the Justice department had to be undone by Michael Gove and spending an admittedly creditable blunder-free 27 seconds as Conservative Party chairman has now presided over the nation's train network grinding to a halt.

Michael Gove, the environment secretary who is apparently mulling a leadership bid by wooing Tory MPs with a promise of axing HS2, despite his last pitch for the top being so bad he was beaten to the final two by...

Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons whose public contributions to the most complex set of negotiations any British government has had to conjure with for 70 years has been to demand commemorative stamps, mull over a public holiday called 'independence day' and suggest, incomprehensibly, that Britain's exit from the EU would be like Richard Curtis' 2003 comedy Love Actually.

Liz Truss, the chief secretary to the Treasury, who last week inexplicably gave a speech attacking 'wood-burning Goves' and 'smoke and hot air at the environment department' while simultaneously upsetting a whole generation of horror fans by misunderstanding the plot of Gremlins.

That "strong team".

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