Watch Theresa May’s shock at Michael Gove’s claim about Brexit

Michael Gove made a surprising claim about Brexit… and Theresa May’s reaction was spectacular, Michael Deacon writes:

When she was prime minister, Theresa May was rarely interesting to listen to – but she was always fascinating to watch. This was because she had such a spectacularly expressive face. Whenever she disagreed with what she was hearing, her face would contort itself into the most extraordinary winces and frowns and grimaces. Her features would writhe and twist and squirm, as if her underwear were made of steel wool, or swarming with red ants. 

Now that Mrs May is a mere backbench MP, we sadly see rather less of her facial gymnastics. This afternoon (Monday) in the Commons, however, we were treated to a special performance – and it was up there with her very best.

Michael Gove had just finished making a statement about the looming possibility of a no-deal Brexit. Mrs May rose to ask him a question. She did not look impressed.

“I note,” she said darkly, “that my right honourable friend made no mention of security. And the Prime Minister made no reference to security in his letter to parliamentarians on October 16. So will he confirm that if the UK walks away with no deal, our police will no longer have the necessary access to databases in order to be able to identify and catch criminals and potential terrorists?”

She glowered at Mr Gove, as if she were a headmistress, and he a boy she had summoned to her office to explain why he’d placed a whoopee cushion on the art mistress’s chair.

Mr Gove, however, did not flinch, and replied with his usual grandiloquent fluency. 

“There are many, many areas,” he said airily, “in which we can cooperate more effectively to safeguard our borders outside the EU than we ever could inside. Through a variety of methods and arrangements, we can intensify the security that we give to the British people…”

He appeared to be saying that a no-deal Brexit would actually be good for national security. Many MPs would find such a claim surprising. But none found it more surprising than Mrs May – as we could well see, by looking at what was happening to her face. 

It seemed to be undergoing a remarkable transformation. In slow motion, a disbelieving grin became a consternated frown, and then a gurn of bewildered incredulity. Mrs May gawped. She goggled. She grimaced. Then she turned to a colleague, and, quite unmistakably, mouthed the word, “WHAT???” 

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