The Brexit Tapes
By John Bull
A satirical glimpse behind the curtain as the Government tries, and fails, to deliver Brexit.
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In June 2016 the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. In July 2018 the Cabinet met at Chequers to work out how to do it. It did not go well.
About The Brexit Tapes
First published in 2149, The Brexit Tapes is a must-read text for all students of Brexit History (‘Brextory’).
Brextorians had long-suspected that then-Prime Minister Theresa May had recorded a number of key Cabinet conversations at the time. It was only with the expiry of the ‘One Hundred and Thirty Year Rule’, however, that the full extent of these recordings became clear. In addition to Cabinet meetings, tapes had been made of private audiences, informal briefings, phone calls, ‘booze cruises’ and even Eldritch Thinkspaces, often in direct contravention of privacy laws at the time. Although the tapes themselves appear to be lost, a number of transcripts survive and are now contained within the National Archives.
Presented without editorial comment, this book provides students with some of the most important of those transcripts. These cover some of the most critical moments in the run up to Brexit itself. This includes May’s infamous use of Steam Wishlists to maintain Cabinet loyalty, the role played by popular folk hero Sir Christopher Grayling in founding the Kent Lorry Festival, and much more.
The late Baroness May’s seminal four-part The Art of (No) Deal states that Brexit was a ‘strong and stable period, born from the chaotic fires of Ed Miliband’. These transcripts however, provide considerable, and often controversial, evidence that our understanding of this period of British history may require re-evaluation. At the very least, they suggest that this may well not have been the prevailing view at the time. As a senior opposition MP can be heard to utter:
“People don't want a sensible Brexit Keir. They want one with Spitfires that shoot longbows at Frenchmen.”
Just how true this statement was is something this book will help students decide for themselves. If nothing else, the transcripts highlight the role that chance, self-preservation, eldritch horrors and a particularly impressive line drawing of Dobby the House Elf played in shaping the political events of the day.
About This Edition
In addition to the original text and introduction from Britain’s Official Brextorian, this second edition has been updated to include a number of popular Brexit folksongs from the time.
It also includes the infamous ‘lost transcripts’ unearthed by the Taytay Institute of Socmedia Archeology earlier this year. Salvaged from a previously undiscovered Twitter backup, these cover the negotiation of the Chequers Agreement in 2018, as well as the day of the 2017 General Election.
- Small, portable format - 111 x 178mm
- Hardback, high quality print
- Black and white printing, with original illustrations.
- A unique typographical approach to page design.
- More levels and stretch goals to be announced!
*Page and cover designs are for illustrative purposes and are subject to change.
My name is John Bull and I am a British journalist and historian. Writing for everything from The Guardian to Cult TV Times and The Dark Side, I like to look at how obscure and unexpected moments can change history. This has included explaining how the personal rivalry between Chris Grayling and Sadiq Khan has redefined Britain’s Railways, an award-winning look at how Charles II ruined things for Uber, and writing about how Quincy M.E. still saves thousands of lives around the world every year. Yes, that Quincy. The one from seventies TV.
In 2018, I decided to combine my love of politics, horror and the strange inter-connectedness of all things into a successful ongoing ‘What-if’ alt-history of Brexit, the complete (and expanded) version of which I’d like to bring you in print.
Technically this will be my second book, although my first book had a print run of just one. I wrote it for my wife to celebrate our fifth anniversary. No, I’m not telling you what it was about. It was just for her
THE BREXIT TAPES
**Confidential Historical Document. Released to remaining public after expiration of the One-Hundred-and-Thirty-Year Act.**
Transcript covers 15th — 16th November 2018 and the time of Great Resignation.
LIDINGTON: First minister’s gone. It’s Shailesh.
LIDINGTON: Shailesh Vara.
MAY: David, I was up until 4am pretending to give a shit about Corbyn’s recipe for raspberry jam. My brain is broken. I have not yet had coffee. Who is that?
LIDINGTON: Damn. I was hoping you knew.
LIDINGTON: Okay. Shailesh. According to Wikipedia he’s from Cambridgeshire.
LIDINGTON: Black belt in Tai Kwondo. No scandal section.
MAY: Nice. You sure he’s one of ours?
LIDINGTON: ‘Implemented devastating cuts to legal aid.’
MAY: Oh right. Yeah. Definitely one of ours.
LIDINGTON: There goes Raab.
MAY: Dom?! The little fucking traitor.
LIDINGTON: Yup. Here’s his letter.
MAY: ‘I Have resigned so I can spend more time with an atlas.’
LIDINGTON: Yes. That part was a bit weird.
MAY: Who’s next? Grayling?
LIDINGTON: Maybe. Although Grayling will…
MAY: Careful! Remember the curse. Say it three times and he appears.
LIDINGTON: Sorry. Then Leadsom next I think. Failing that…
LIDINGTON: I SAID FAILING!
GRAYLING: That works too!
GRAYLING: What are we talking about?
MAY: Go away Chris.
GRAYLING: Is it Brexit?
LIDINGTON: Go away Chris.
GRAYLING: Esther gave me a letter to give you.
GRAYLING: Also are you going to Michael Gove’s pizza party later?
GRAYLING: It’s a secret one! Shhhh!
LIDINGTON: Suella Bravernann has gone now.
MAY: Okay, seriously you made that name up.
LIDINGTON: I didn’t!
MAY: Who’s next? Willie Dustice?
LIDINGTON: She’s real! I swear!
MAY: Sure. Has Dwigt Rortugal gone yet?
LIDINGTON: Look! She’s on Wikipedia!
MAY: That’s not a valid source, David.
<meanwhile, somewhere in London>
GREGGS LADY: Hello duck! We’ve not seen you in a while!
ED MILIBAND: I’ve been… away.
GREGGS LADY: Well it’s nice to see you again. What can I get you?
MILIBAND: Bacon butty please.
GREGGS: LADY: You want ketchup in that?
MILIBAND: Drown it.
MAY <on phone>: I hear you’re planning another pizza party.
GOVE: <dry hissing>
MAY: How you do think I know?
GOVE: <sound of wet tentacles>
MAY: I propose an alternative: Become My Brexit Minister.
GOVE: <ghoulish wail>
MAY: Think about it Michael this could be your chance to prove everyone wrong.
GOVE: <wet clicking>
MAY: Brexit Secretary. They’d HAVE to admire you.
GOVE: <subdued wet slapping>
MAY: They’d have to love you then, Michael. The people, they’d have to respect you.
GOVE: <demonic purr>
<in the terrace cafe>
JAYAWARDENA: Prime Minister…
MAY: The lasagna please. And what’s the dessert of the day?
JAYAWARDENA: No, Prime Minister it’s me.
MAY: <blank look>
JAYAWARDENA: Ranil Jayawardena? PPS at Justice?
MAY: Still no.
JAYAWARDENA: I hearby resi…
MAY: Meh. Join the queue. I’m on lunch.
<meanwhile in Staples>
REES-MOGG: Fair maiden! Where is the Vellum? I must write to the 1922 Committee!
TILL LADY: Paper? Over there.
REES-MOGG: Vellum, sweet child! Vellum! One does not use paper for the ‘22!
TILL LADY: Is that like Post-its then? They're over there.
TILL LADY: Sir there’s a queue.
LIDINGTON: Rees-Mogg’s letter is in.
MAY: Tedious little shit.
LIDINGTON: Anything from Gove?
MAY: I feel terror and an overwhelming urge to vomit, so maybe his human form approaches.
LIDINGTON: Oh sorry, that's my fault. I forgot to mute Sky and Rees-Mogg’s live. <click>
MAY: Okay, yes, the feeling has passed.
LIDINGTON: Leadsom’s up in the house. Says she’s not resigning.
MAY: Fucksake, can’t one thing go my way today?
LIDINGTON: Is that not… a good thing?
MAY: Think about it David. This means we STILL have to invite her to Cabinet Meetings.
LIDINGTON: Rumours about Chris now. Shall I…
MAY: Grayling Grayling Grayling
LIDINGTON: I was going to call him.
MAY: The curse is quicker. Chris have you been speaking to Gove again?
GRAYLING: Um… No?
MAY: You’re covered in ichor, Chris
GRAYLING: Okay yes.
MAY: What did Gove say to you?
GRAYLING: He sang a song, straight into my brain. Like sugar, sorrow and power intertwined. Through it all, one world resolved: ‘resign’.
MAY: Oh Jesus. Gove got to you.
GRAYLING: Also he gave me pizza.
GRAYLING: It was Hawaiian.
MAY: Sweet mercy.
GRAYLING: I think this means I have to resign.
LIDINGTON: Chris, you’re a valuable member of the team and...
GRAYLING: That’s very nice of you to say so David, but I feel very strongly about this. I hereby...
MAY: You’re NOT resigning Chris. You don’t want to.
GRAYLING: Oh. Okay miss. Sorry.
MAY <on the phone>: Are you in or out?
GOVE: <sound of one hand clapping>
MAY: Sorry? Is that yes or no?
GOVE: <unholy shriek>
MAY: Michael, this would be a lot easier if you assumed human form for a few minutes.
GOVE: <hideous clicking>
MAY: Yes I know it’s your day off, but still.
LIDINGTON: Okay. Press conference booked for five.
LIDINGTON: What are you going to say?
MAY: Honestly? I really don’t know. I just thought... YOLO
LIDINGTON: You could do the little dance again?
MAY: Really, David?
LIDINGTON: Oh come on! How could it POSSIBLY make things any worse?!
LIDINGTON: Okay, thinking out of the box... you could go full George-from-Seinfeld-after-he-quit?
MAY: So turn up, don’t mention Brexit, pretend the whole referendum never happened?
LIDINGTON: Yes, and hope everyone is so embarrassed they all pretend the same.
MAY: I mean, it’s pretty tempting…
LIDINGTON: Rehman Chishti has quit now.
MAY: Who ARE all these people?!
LIDINGTON: I have no idea.
MAY: I need to start reading stuff before I sign it.
LIDINGTON: Wait… ‘Trade Envoy’ apparently.
MAY: I mean, what even IS that?!
LIDINGTON: Are Trade Envoys the ones who go helicopter golfing with Prince Andrew?
MAY: No, that’s Cultural Ambassadors.
LIDINGTON: Oh yes.
MAY: Hang on, are they the ones we send to the hot, humid countries we hate?
LIDINGTON: No, that’s Liam Fox.
MAY: Ha! Oh yeah.
MAY: All I’m saying, Donald, is you’re being VERY unhelpful here.
TUSK: Me? All I said was ‘no brexit’ is an option. It was just a little comment.
MAY: And that’s… wait, are you LAUGHING.
TUSK: *stiffles giggles* no.
MAY: You are!
TUSK: I’m not!
MAY: Donald! I swear… hello?!
TUSK <laughing hysterically>: Oh god I had to hang up. I cannot stop.
MACRON: Let me answer next time! We’ll make her think she dialed the wrong number
TUSK: No, it is mean!
MACRON: Okay, but let me make another public comment about a European Army.
TUSK: LOL! Okay go on then.
LIDINGTON: Okay, show time. What are you doing again?
MAY: Still no idea.
LIDINGTON: Just think, ‘what would David Cameron do’?
MAY: ...And then do the opposite. Yes I know. Actually… do you think announcing his arrest and execution would help?
MAY: Just thinking out loud.
MAY: How did I do?
LIDINGTON: You didn’t really say anything.
LIDINGTON: I mean, it was pretty much a rehash of the same stuff as this morning.
LIDINGTON: Basically, a damp squib.
LIDINGTON: Top, top trolling.
MAY: Okay Michael
GOVE: <eldritch hiss>
MAY: Yes, we’ll see you soon.
LIDINGTON: He’s coming over?
MAY: As soon as he’s got his skin on.
LIDINGTON: I’ll lock the cat away.
MAY: Thanks, and send down to the kitchen for some live mice.
GOVE: It iS GoOd tO SeE YOu AgaiN PriMe MINIsTeR. On MY DaY oFF.
MAY: Thanks for coming Michael
GOVE: It IS Of nO CoNSEqUencE.
MAY: You’re very kind.
GOVE: AlTHOugh TOday IS My DaY oFF.
MAY: Yes, I know, you already said.
GOVE: YoU wiLL PaY hoMAGE?
GOVE <lip smacking>: HOmaGE
MAY: Oh right! Sorry! David! The mice please.
GOVE <crunching of small bones>: AH! SwEet moRCels.
DAVID: My God.
GOVE: Do I HAve sOME on MY ChIN?
MAY: David don’t stare.
GOVE <wiping>: HoW EMBarRAssING i DO ApOLOgise.
MAY: Will you be Brexit Secretary?
GOVE: WEll iT iS a SUBJeCt I HaVE OPIniOns oN.
MAY: I know.
GOVE: AnD I hAVE aLWAys bEEn LoYal aND trUE to mY FriENDs.
GOVE: OKaY, ApART fROM tHAt ONe TiME.
GOVE: Or PErHAps tWIcE.
LIDINGTON: Try five.
MAY: Be nice, David.
GOVE: If i AM To SErvE tHEn I hAVe dEMAnDs.
GOVE: I wISh to ReNEgoTIaTe tHE TeRMs.
MAY: Okay. Tricky. But maybe.
GOVE: AnD A FRee VoTE iN ParlIAMent.
MAY: Keep talking.
GOVE: alSO aN IteM oN mY STeaM wISHList is ON SAle.
LIDINGTON: More mice?
GOVE: ThANk YoU.
MAY: Okay we can work with this.
GOVE: AnD OnE FiNAL DemAND. I reQUIre BoRIS JohNSoN’s hEAd oN A pLAte.
MAY: Okay. That's trickier but the idea has a certain appeal and I’m sure…
LIDINGTON: Prime Minister! No!
GOVE: ThEn I mUSt decLINE.
- 19th August 2021 Last One's Gone...
“Don’t worry.” They said. “It takes, on average, about eighteen months for a book by an unknown author to get funded. In fact, it’s one of the things we have to manage people’s expectations about.”
One week after Unbound told me that, to both my utter joy and my abject terror, you all proved them wrong.
Of course, I suspect when they approached me about doing this they had a bit more faith in…17th April 2019 Coffee, Boats and Skyrim quotes...
Photo: My current view on the world
One of the hardest, and most interesting, challenges of writing the 'Brexit Tapes' so far has been what to do with the 'lost' prequel.
One of the standard tropes of writing is that the very first thing you create in a series will nearly always turn out to be the worst entry in it. The reasons for that are relatively obvious…8th March 2019 Stretch goals and the big 'OMG we're funded what now?!' update
Well. What a couple of weeks it has been.
Firstly, thanks to all of you from the bottom of my heart. When Unbound approached me and suggested doing this book, I was somewhat dismissive of the chances of it getting funded. But within a single week you all proved me thoroughly wrong.
To say this caught me out would be a bit of an understatement. My wife and I had booked a short break in Krakow…
These people are helping to fund The Brexit Tapes.