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Will today's political heroes please stand up?

By Toby Neal | Opinions | Published:

At times of seismic national crisis, the great figures of history declare themselves.

It happened in May 1940. Winston Churchill led the nation in its darkest hour.

Hundreds of thousands of British troops were trapped on the beaches of mainland Europe, seeking to escape. Then there was the miracle of Dunkirk.

It's exactly like that again today, but also totally different and much more messy – more Dungkirk than Dunkirk.

The Brits are once more on the beaches of mainland Europe, weary of three years of fighting, albeit among ourselves, and looking for a way out.

What they need is a modern hero to provide clear-headed leadership and to galvanise the nation. Where could one be?

Oh, Jeremy Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn makes a surprise visit to Ironbridge in May 2019

Yes, he's the man. He says so himself. Jezza is seeking to build a temporary government of national unity to carry the UK through its moment of crisis, with himself as "caretaker" Prime Minister.

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In case you are locked in outdated stereotypes, the modern caretaker isn't just somebody who has the keys. It's a multi-skilled and responsible role.

With the Brits milling around aimlessly on the Dungkirk beaches, the solution this time isn't to make a break with mainland Europe, but to send them back into the arms of the welcoming Europeans.

We've had our differences, but this is the platform on which to build a new common future, forward, together, in unity, hope, friendship, and prosperity. It almost sounds like a Churchill speech.

This may not be Jeremy's dream by the way. But it might be. There again, it might not. When it comes to policy on Europe, it's difficult to pin down what our great leader-in-waiting actually thinks, but we do know that he believes that the best interests of the British nation at this juncture lie in bringing down the elected British government.

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After that, the prospect opens up of Jeremy leading us to the sunlit uplands.

Why is he the Winston Churchill of the hour? Churchill built a team of national unity around him. A great leader with a sense of his own destiny, he also listened, and despite grumbling was compared to make compromises.

Jeremy is a listen-and-learn leader. He doesn't impose his views and make policy in his own image. He seeks the views of people likely to agree with him and then comes up with "consensus" policy, although admittedly on Europe this strategy has yielded him certain technical difficulties.

If all goes well and his no confidence vote succeeds, for the greater good of the nation off he will trot to the Palace to offer himself as the new leader of national unity (I'm guessing that's what will happen, but am not pretending my constitutional knowledge on this point is so hot), bow to the Queen, kiss her hand or whatever is necessary, before returning to take up "strictly temporary" office in Downing Street and forming his Cabinet.

The members will need to be carefully chosen to carry the nation through the stormy waters. First on the list has to be John McDonnell. He's game for a laugh. And as Brexit is the issue about which all this is about, then there has to be Labour's so-called "Brexit Secretary" Sir Keir Starmer. Diane Abbott will need to be on hand to provide advice on facts and figures.

For people to have confidence in Jezza's Cabinet, it will need inclusivity, offering the hand of friendship across all political spectrums, except the Tories. Somebody like Ian Blackford, for example, of the Scottish Myopics, a self-styled compromise figure who says he will fight to the ends of the earth to stop Brexit and for Scottish independence.

New Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, pictured front right, celebrates the party's recent by-election victory in Brecon

Caroline The Sexist will get a place. Jo Swinson has already declared she would have nothing to do with such a plan, so Jeremy can confidently offer her a place too – as the Cameron-Clegg axis proved, you only have to offer the Lib Dems a sniff of power and they'll drop everything and come running.

Probably not Anna Soubry, as she can be a pain, but there has to be a token of Tory persuasion, somebody like Dominic Grieve, whose arcane procedural points would allow time for tea breaks.

In the light of the Irish backstop question, there will need to be relevant representation. An Ulster Unionist, maybe? Heavens, no.

Jeremy could try Gerry Adams, although as Sinn Fein has never taken its seats in Westminster he is hardly likely to accept a place at the table at the heart of the British establishment.

Leo Varadkar is the obvious person to ask. It would be somewhat irregular of course, but special times call for special measures.

And there you have it. This is Britain's team to save the nation

What will it all be about? Back in 1940 Churchill's message was that he would deliver victory, victory despite all trials, tribulations, and hardships.

In the autumn of 2019 Jeremy Corbyn's message will be clear. He will save the nation by delivering one of the following – no no-deal, no Brexit, a referendum to put it back to the people, a new and better Brexit deal negotiated by himself, or perhaps something else somebody suggests to him over the next few days.

It is a prospect to stir the nation. An evocation of the Dunkirk spirit (but without the evacuation this time).

Boris, these are the men, and women, to stop your little game.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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