Parliament began its new term with a statement from David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. Mr Davis appeared relatively unemcumbered by the fact that he has the most clumsy, and possibly the most ambiguous, job title in Theresa May’s government. If you read it too quickly you can come away with the impression that his job is to excite the European Union. The European Union is full of people like Jean-Claude Juncker and Angela Merkel. Exciting them is beyond what we should be prepared to ask of any minister of the Crown.

Marking his return to the Government front bench after 20 years, Mr Davis began brightly by saying that he felt the House would find it useful if he set out how the Government’s Brexit strategy was going. On this at least there was complete agreement: the House was clearly in a mood to hear something useful pertaining to the most significant political, economic and administrative upheaval to face the country for several generations. By the end of his statement, however, few members on either side seemed satisfied by the usefulness of what they had heard. Only Andrew Mitchell, the former International Development Secretary and Altercator-in-Chief with the police force – bucked this trend. Mr Mitchell radiated unsullied pleasure merely at the fact that Mr Davis had materialised before him four benches down at the despatch box. The Secsit Brexit could have stood on his head and recited The Ballad of Reading Gaol and Mr Mitchell would still have told him that he was wonderful.

Mr Davis may not yet have accumulated much of a policy, but he has at least accumulated a respectable number of bureaucrats to work out what his policy is going to be. He explained that he now had 300 people – 180 in London and 120 in Brussels – helping him to excite Mr Juncker. Sitting beside him, Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary – whose “beaming countenance” had earlier been praised by Speaker Bercow – seemed not to mind that most of these had presumably been stolen from his own legions. Like the rest of the House, he was trying to keep pace with the profound philosophical insights that Mr Davis was starting to unload. “Brexit means leaving the European Union”, he explained, adding for good measure a little later on that exiting the EU was simultaneously straightforward and complex. Many people have said exactly the same about the Foreign Secretary.

Emboldened by the fact that the House was still, rather surprisingly, taking him seriously, Mr Davis chose to strike out for more daring ground. It was “improbable”, he ventured, that the UK would remain a member of the Single Market. A condition of remaining in the Single Market is to allow the free movement of people into the country, and since, if there is one thing we know about Government policy, it is that it is going to stop free movement of people into the country, the Secsit Brexit would appear to have had irrefutable logic on his side. This might be so, but it didn’t necessarily mean that he would have Number 10 there as well. The following day a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister explained that her Exiting the EU Secretary had been offering an opinion that wasn’t necessarily Government policy. Mrs May has a reputation for extreme caution: she doesn’t want her ministers declaring that the moon isn’t made of green cheese until she has looked into the matter and come up with her settled view.

Mr Davis wasn’t the only member of the Cabinet struggling to stay onside as the PM moved forward with the ball. Mrs May’s signal achievement of the week was to announce a new policy on grammar schools, one which simultaneously delighted the Tory right and further disheartened the flailing forces of Cameroonian modernism. That the new policy was opposed by Nicky Morgan, the former education secretary, was not in doubt. The more interesting question was whether it was supported by the current education secretary, Justine Greening.

Certainly Ms Greening seemed to be having some difficulty with mastering the lexicon of loyalty as she briefed MPs on the topic in response to an emergency question. Kremlinologists were quick to notice that she was somewhat less stout in her advocacy of the policy than had been the PM herself in a speech 24 hours earlier to the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee. Dark suspicions started to swirl that Ms Greening might be a closet moderniser herself. At least she can console herself with the thought that she managed the unite the Labour Party in opposition to what she was saying. Anyone with the capacity to unite the Labour Party over anything is a person with formidable political skills.

Such skills are not, of course, possessed by Jeremy Corbyn, although this seems unlikely to prevent him being confirmed as leader of the Labour Party in a couple of weeks’ time. Like all newly-elected political leaders, he can look forward to a honeymoon, although in his case it is unlikely to last much more than 36 hours, and being Mr Corbyn he will no doubt spend it in Venezuela, or perhaps North Korea. Then the whole ghastly Labour leadership battle will begin over again. Owen Smith, his soon to be vanquished challenger, meanwhile suggested that he might like to take Britain into the euro and the Schengen Agreement, thus displaying the most perfect tin ear for what Labour voters actually want. The temptation for Theresa May to call an early general election – something that the more knowing commentators are saying she may have to do because of grammar schools – must be growing by the day.

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