How To Write It: A Brexit Breakup Note

The Prime Minister sits at her desk, which fits awkwardly, not like when she peered over it to banish Osborne.

She’s put it off till now, but really, she’s got to write it: her Brexit Breakup Note.

Larry, sensing the moment is not good, cowers from the leopard-print shoes with which he’s had his own ill-starred romance. He looks for somewhere to jump, but she banished all the sofas.

Jean-Claude, It’s not EU, it’s US: Fine far as it goes, but only five words in, she’s not sure whether to disclose the hand-holding in Washington, and how do you even start a letter in Luxembourgish?

Several minutes with Google offers some promising phrases: I’m from England, Goodbye, Sorry, Leave me alone. But what makes a good break-up letter?

There’s a copy of Debrett’s that came with the desk, ’88 High Street, Eton’ still visible on the inside, despite her best go with the eraser:

The letter need not be very long but should be handwritten on writing paper, well thought out and appropriate to the relationship.

Use your natural voice but avoid being overly emotional. The letter should be personal but concise.

If bespoke stationery is not possible, well-chosen writing paper and envelopes will show that you have taken some trouble.

Bespoke sounded a tiny touch like the Tory old guard; she wasn’t sure. But well-chosen paper: that offers options. There’s the acquis communitaire, the Treaty of Rome, the copy of the Maastricht treaty she’d had to stop Boris from playing rounders with; somewhere – she’d had her PPS dig for it – there’s the reverse side of De Gaulle’s ‘Non’.

You don’t invoke Article 50 every day, after all – a Prime Minister should be sure to hit the right memorable note of scornful gravitas.

And perhaps glance at a few of the truly great classics of the genre? Oscar’s to Bosie, Mary Wollstonecraft’s to Gilbert Imlay, John Lennon’s to Paul McCartney, Jordan to that cage fighter, they’re all Brits, give or take an Irishman.

‘Dear Bosie, Our ill-fated and most lamentable friendship has ended in ruin and public infamy for me. … My judgment forsook me, blindly I staggered as an ox into the shambles.’ This is good, but maybe not so much the natural voice for a clergyman’s daughter.

She turns to Wollstonecraft’s. ‘I am glad you are satisfied with your own conduct. I now solemnly assure you, that this is an eternal farewell. I part with you in peace.’ Promising, maybe one to crib from, but then she realises she’s mixed her up with Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Frankenstein would have been hugely fun to work in. A top-flight monster, after all, and even sounds German.

Three laps of the office, in a Frankenstein shuffle and her best Merkel impersonation, and it was time to continue. ‘Dear Linda and Paul, I was reading your letter and wondering what middle aged cranky Beatle fan wrote it.’ She reads it through, toys with borrowing either ‘all the petty sh*t that came from your insane family’ or, conciser, ‘F***ing hell, Linda.’ Then she puts it down, and realises why she doesn’t like modern music.

Next. There’s another buff folder fetched by her PPS, which she leafs through. ‘No, no, no’ reads a note from 1990. One to work in – almost as good as ‘Breakup means breakup.’ ”We have slammed down our application on the table,’ from 1967. Fine, but Harold Wilson.

Use your natural voice. Suddenly, inspiration hits. She puts down a straight banana upon which she’d begun to snack.

‘You had a Eurovision song called Waterloo and it wasn’t by us, or even France,’ she writes.

‘Also, I borrowed Boris’s computer and we need to talk about German porn,’ she continues, feeling again the old Home Secretary coming back.

That was good fun, she thinks, thirty pages later as she signs ‘Theresa’. And with an excitement she hadn’t felt since those twelve thrilling years at the Association for Payment Clearing Services, she impishly wondered what was in Article 51.

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