As the European football championships begin, the next stage of Project Fear is revealed…

Hordes of hooligans ran through the streets trading kicks and punches. Rocks, chairs, tables and tear gas were thrown. At one point the battle was reportedly joined by a squad of armed and organised fascists, upon whose machismo one imagines Vladimir Putin smiling with pride. At the end of it all, at least one man was said to be fighting for his life.

But enough of the ongoing EU referendum debate. In Marseilles, English football fans squared off against their Russian counterparts, mindful perhaps that these European championships might be their last opportunity for sinking a knife into the flank of the Bear. It is true that sanctions on Russia have not prevented it from participating in the European community of football, but Mr Putin’s crime of invading Crimea was a relatively minor one compared to Britain tearing up its European Union membership card. If we vote to leave, we’ll be lucky if Brussels doesn’t move to have us struck off the World Cup roster, let alone the European championships, leaving us to hope that enough life on Mars is discovered in time to organise the next international friendly.

Now if all this sounds like the next page of David Cameron’s script, the only wonder from the week in which the football tournament began is why he hasn’t deployed it already. This sketch has a theory that it is being kept in reserve until England have won a couple of games, thereby heightening the sense of loss that footie exile would represent, once we have tasted the delight of slaughtering Slovakia. If so, it would be only the latest in a series of political misjudgements on Downing Street’s part. England are not going to win a couple of games. Come Friday and with the vote less than a week away, we’ll be picking the gristle off the bones of a 0-0 draw and wondering whether the break-up of the Union precipitated by Brexit wouldn’t be worth it if it meant never again having to face the Welsh.

By that time, Leave could be a consistent ten points ahead in the polls, a position that they have already attained in at least one of them, a possibly rogue effort published in the Independent. Most samples of public opinion though have Leave edging ahead causing (it was reported) panic in Downing Street (how can they tell?) and the mobilisation of the Archbishop of Canterbury to steady the ship. Whenever a public figure declares for Remain, it is widely supposed that he is acting on the instructions of Number 10, but this seems unlikely in this case. The momentum may currently be with Leave, but things have surely not yet got so bad that the PM is forced to put his trust in God rather than George Osborne and Eddie Izzard.

Mr Izzard, a Labour-supporting comedian (no implication should be read into this phraseology that to support Labour you have to be a comedian; this is simply what Mr Izzard claims to be), is presumably being used in the campaign to rally the Labour vote to the Remain cause. He turned up on the BBC’s Question Time in a pink beret, pink lipstick and purple nail-varnish, in other words the traditional garb of the Labour working man. Elsewhere, he was heard musing on the difficulties of getting people to vote on 23 June who would be otherwise engaged at the Glastonbury music festival, for it is well-known that this is where steel-workers, train drivers and auxiliary nurses like to spend their summer.

The operation to get Labour supporters to engage in what has otherwise been regarded as the latest manifestation of the eternal loathing that exists between members of the Conservative Party had one immediate effect. Dennis Skinner, the veteran Labour MP and humbug, came out for Leave. At least now Mr Skinner can enjoy hanging out at Glastonbury without the fear that Eddie Izzard is going to tap him on the shoulder and hand him a ballot paper. His defection, however, will not alter the delicate equilibrium of opinion, for it was balanced by a Conservative MP, Sarah Wollaston, moving from Leave to Remain.

A Devon GP, Dr Wollaston has long given the impression that she has conferred upon the Conservative Party a signal honour by agreeing to be one of its Parliamentary representatives. The immense weight of her disdain has now fallen instead on the claim painted on the outside of the Leave battlebus that Brexit would release £350 million a week to spend on the NHS. This, she has decided, is cobblers, although since it has always been cobblers it is not entirely clear why it has taken her until now to decide it. Once again, as with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the President of the United States and the Governor of the Bank of England, it is widely assumed that Dr Wollaston did not make her move until instructed to do so by the Prime Minister, possibly via a microchip that had been inserted into her skull by the whips. It can safely be held that if David Cameron really did possess the power to move pieces around the chessboard of the calibre of Barack Obama and Sarah Wollaston, he would not be in quite the political mess that he now finds himself.