Article 50 Extension Day

It was a sultry day on June 29th, 2051. The air conditioners were on full blast throughout the newly opened Elizabeth Line, as a certain Mr M. emerged from the escalators. Checking his phone, he looked anxiously to see if there was any signal as he approached the faint smog of the street.

Despite his personal role in the procedure, Mr M had as little interest as anybody else in the day's formalities. Article 50 Extension Day was more of a national embarrassment than a festivity, but in true British style, the peculiar customs were kept to in a rigid fashion, in an almost ceremonial way.

Today, however, something quite strange was afoot. Rumours had been circulating MyNews that the parliamentary lobbies were fuller than expected. Today's proceedings were, after all, by custom, only attended by cabinet ministers and a sole representative of the opposition. But there was no denying it: the Malthouse Loyalist Wing were there, in full force, and now photographic evidence had emerged to prove it. "What are they up to? Surely," Mr M asked himself, "there must be a reasonable explanation." But reasonable explanations rarely helped much with the Malthouse Loyalists. It was exactly what Mr M, the then Prime Minister of the National Government, and leader of the Labour party had feared.

Frantic phone calls were made. Members of Parliament were instructed to return at all costs. "For God's sake! Yes, yes, I know that's the custom, but they've showed up this time! There must be 50 of them, and without any support, they've got the numbers to scupper it!".

But it was no use. Most MPs were on holiday, or in their constituencies, and time was short. The only hope was the London MPs of the opposition Socialist Party, but they were in no mood to bail out a Prime Minister from a party which in their view was illegitimately usurping the Labour name, and in coalition with the Tories, no less. Perhaps a few would turn up, but without the support of the whip, who could say if it would be enough?

The ceremony began as it always did, with the Prime Minister speaking at the podium. "No deal is better than a bad deal, and we intend to leave the European Union by the end of the month!", he announced. The words had meant something once, like when the King is said to have been asked to dissolve Parliament for a general election, but now they may as well have been Latin.  "But," said the sole member of the opposition, "we have not made adequate preparation! I therefore propose to the House that a request be submitted to the European Union asking for a two year extension!" The ceremony could not easily be delayed, and it continued as if nothing was the matter. A now authentically old Rees Mogg smiled from the back benches, filled with his 50 or so allies sitting behind the cabinet ministers in an otherwise empty chamber. He displayed his iconic wry smile, and, turning to his neighbour, whispered "I think we've done it!" Or at least, that is what the parliamentary lip readers would later report.

But events would have it otherwise. Filing in, at just the last moment, were the 30 or so members of the Socialist Party needed to pass the extension bill. Nobody knows for certain what caused their change of heart, but it is strongly suspected that it might have had something to do with the National Government's renewed efforts at nationalising the railway lines, excluding of course, the Inter-City Maglev. Or perhaps that was an afterthought, a kind of token of thanks from the National Government to the Socialists. One thing which was beyond dispute was the changing character of Extension Day. Everyone agreed that parliamentary attendance in all future ceremonies would have to be mandatory.