An exclusive extract from the diary of the special adviser to the prime minister
It’s the state opening of parliament, but I’m not actually allowed to be there, I’m watching on TV. Who cares, they’re all fools, let them parade about with Black Rod and the woolsack, or whatevs.
I’ve got my ARPA bill in the Queen’s speech. No one even knows what ARPA is, none of the stupid MPs, or the stupid media, or those dumb civil servant bureaucrats. An Advanced Research Projects Agency was my idea, so they can all, like, just deal with it.
Well, strictly speaking it wasn’t my idea, it was Dwight Eisenhower’s idea, but what did he know? He was no Otto Von Bismarck, nowhere near as good as Michael Gove.
And yes, the UK had one before in the Defence Evaluation Research Agency before it was privatised and called QinetiQ. Like Q branch in James Bond before people started saying he had to be a woman or black or whatever.
But it is totally my idea and it’s going to be great. I’ve got a whole lot of brilliant plans for the new science funding agency: proton pills which taste like three-course dinners, hover cars, moon base Boris, telepods.
Telepods will be great. You go into a booth in one place and re-emerge in another. It would be a transport system that is like totally carbon-free, except for the massive amount of energy that would be needed to make it work.
But that is why we are going to have commercial nuclear fusion. British scientists will make it so small that it can be fitted in cars or like rocket boots or something. Fusion rocket boots, that will show them, all those moaning Remainers who go on about peer review and public oversight of science funding.
We could like have a car with a flux capacitor engine, which was fuelled by garbage and which travelled in time. I could go back in time and bet on the result of the Brexit referendum and make a fortune, like Nigel Farage’s hedge fund friends.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Time travel is still a while away. What’s happening on TV now? Why is a diamond crown being pulled in a horse-drawn carriage surrounded by, like, Beefeaters or something? God, it’s like the middle ages or something.
I’m arranging my Star Wars figures in my office, putting the Jedi on one shelf and the Empire on another. There is a knock on the door and Boris comes in.
“Are you busy boss?” he asks.
‘What do you want Boris? I’m trying to decide which shelf Anakin Skywalker should be on,” I tell him.
“Sorry to disturb. I’m just wondering what we should say to the EU is our preferred basis for a deal,” he says, tiptoeing around the doorway.
“WTO rules,” I say.
“Err… that’s not a deal, that’s no deal”, he says.
“Oh yeah, well GATT article 24,” I say picking up C3P0.
“That’s also no deal,” he says, looking at his feet.
“Alternative arrangements then,” I say.
“The thing is Dom, I’ve read the briefings, and they don’t actually exist,” he says.
“At the moment, that’s what the ARPA is for. We’re going to have telepods for freight, so we don’t need any borders,” I tell him.
“Telepods? Right, I’ll tell that to old Barnier, see what he says,” Boris replies.
“Remember Boris, no deal is better than a bad deal,” I tell him.
“Actually Dom, I’ve kind of told everyone I’ll get a deal—shooting the old mouth trumpet off—and at this moment any deal would be better than no deal,” he says.
“Whatevs Boris, if you just want a deal renege on everything you’ve ever said, give them what they want and put a customs border down the Irish Sea. That’s the only thing they’ll agree to,” I say, hoping that will get rid of him.
“Ok thanks Dom. But what about the DUP?” he asks.
“Tell them about the telepods,” I say.
“Telepods? They don’t even believe in dinosaurs, but I’ll try,” he says and leaves, finally.
Now, clone troopers? Empire or Jedi?
It’s late in Brussels but the deal is done with the EU. It will never get through the UK parliament but that’s the idea, no one will care that it’s 95 per cent the same as Theresa May’s deal with the added betrayal of the people who have kept us in government. All they’ll remember is that MPs blocked it.
Michel Barnier is packing up his suitcase.
“That was a very long negotiation, the longest I ’av known. Ireland is so tricky,” he says.
“Just wait until we get on to the moon base,” I tell him, putting my papers in my Waitrose bag for life.
“The moon base? What is this? Is it on the Irish border?” he asks.
“No, it’s on the moon, mate. Clue’s in the name,” I tell him.
“The moon?” he says looking confused.
“Yeah, moon base Boris, it will be the further most outpost of the second British Empire. Well until we open a concession of the East Mars Trading Company, Camp Michael,” I tell him.
“Are you ok, monsieur Cummings? It ’as been a long night, do you need a doctor?” asks Barnier.
“We’ll get there first and then the European space programme will come along and be like, ‘can we have some of your moon rock?’ and we’ll be like ‘bite my dust Philippe’, or whatever,” I say.
“Dieu merci qu’ils partent,” he mutters.
”We’ll all be speaking English on the moon, matey,” I tell him.
“Bon nuit, monsieur Cummings, have a safe trip back to London,” he smiles and leaves.
It’s 2.30 in the morning and no trains. Note to self, once ARPA perfect the flux capacitor engine, pop back in time to now and leave a telepod in the corner so I can get home quick.
Boris’s deal has put the wind up all the Remainers. That’ll teach them to question me. I can’t wait to see the face of those civil servants at the business department.
“This is wonderful news, Dom, well done,” says the permanent secretary.
“What? You like it?” I ask.
“Yes, of course, a deal is better than no deal and if it passes through the Commons we in the civil service can start to plan for the future,” she says.
“Yeah sure, so what will you do first?” I ask.
“I’ll renew our lease on the office in Brussels,” she says.
“What?” I ask, incredulously.
“Yes, if we have a deal we will have associated membership of the European Union’s science and research programmes, so we will need to be in Brussels,” she says.
“You are kidding me!” I say.
“Yes, that’s what the deal is, didn’t you know that?” she asks, looking nonplussed.
“Of course I knew that, I know everything. Like, whatever, you’re not even my real mum. I’m going to my room. I hate you. You’ve ruined my life,” I tell her and storm off.
I’m wondering whether to take off my beanie and gilet or to turn down the heating in my office when Chris Skidmore turns up.
“Dom, I’ve been reading over your draft proposal for the ARPA and I’ve got some feedback for you from the boffins at UK Research and Innovation,” he says.
“Draft?” I reply.
“Just some comments in the spirit of constructive dialogue,” he says.
“Whatever,” I say.
“First of all, the role of director,” he says.
‘Yes?” I say wondering where he is going with this.
“I’m not sure Dr Hans Zarkov will be available,” he says.
“Why not?” I respond.
“Because he is a fictional character in Flash Gordon,” he says, sounding nervous.
“I knew that. I know everything. It was just indicative. We could have anyone,” I tell him.
“Like who?” he asks.
“Lex Luthor,” I tell him.
“I’m beginning to see a flaw in this plan,” he says.
“If Lex isn’t available, we can have Wayne Szalinski,” I tell him.
“Wayne Szalinksi?” he asks.
“Hah! You don’t know him, I know more about science than you!” I shoot back.
“Ok Dom, you win. Can you tell me a little about his work?” he asks.
“I saw a documentary about him. He invented a shrinking ray, but he accidentally shrunk his kids and some of the neighbours’ kids and the children ended up in the garden and they had to fight, like, giant ants and avoid lawn mowers and stuff to get back into the lab and be made big again. I think his research builds on those medical guys who shrunk the submarine and put it inside that guy’s body with Raquel Welch on board,” I tell him.
“I think I’ll just email you the rest of feedback,” he sighs and leaves.