Foreign Affairs Select Committee

Vir Cantium, Going Postal

FADE IN:
INT. A COMMITTEE ROOM IN PORTCULLIS HOUSE – MORNING
Members of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee are just sitting down. One member, DIANNE ABBOTT MP FFRC places a red and white bucket full of unidentifiable foodstuffs on the empty chair next to her.
The FOREIGN SECRETARY RT. HON. VIR CANTII MP enters with his PERMANENT SECRETARY and they take their seats in front of the committee.
CHAIRMAN
Good morning everyone. Can we approve the minutes of the last meeting?
Murmurs of agreement are heard from around the table.
CHAIRMAN
Thank you. Just one matter arising from last time: the Clerk has brought up Ms. Soubry’s complaint with the House authorities. Facilities Management have assured us that there is no evidence of the building moving of its own accord or any devices covertly installed to render a holographic double of any member sitting next to them.

MS. ANNA SOUBRY squints intently at the empty space just to the Chairman’s left.
CHAIRMAN
Now, let us begin. Foreign Secretary. You’ll be aware of the latest round of emails released via Wikileaks originating from the U.S. State Department. I wonder if we could ask you about those.
FOREIGN SECRETARY
Ah, right. I should explain at the outset that the Wankpuffin videos thing was a bit of an in joke. The President and I apparently share an appreciation…
CHAIRMAN
(interrupting)
Actually, Foreign Secretary, I was going to refer to the one that relates a conversation between you and the U.S. Secretary of State as follows:
(reading from a screen)
“Had an interesting talk with the new British Foreign Sec. He has some clear and candid views on the ME situation. For example, he sees a time when it will ‘kick off’ between the Saudis and Iran and when that happens we need to be in a position where we can ‘just let the buggers kill each other so saving us the trouble’ – his words, naturally.”
(pause)
Any comments, Foreign Secretary?
FOREIGN SECRETARY
Well, I can’t deny it – it’s there in black and white. I suspect this may make His Majesty’s visit to Riyadh next week a little more interesting, eh?
CHAIRMAN
Yes, I’m sure, but about the language?
FOREIGN SECRETARY
Ah yes, I must apologise profusely to the ladies on the committee …
A ‘harrumphing’ sound is heard from the direction of MS. THORNBERRY.
FOREIGN SECRETARY (CONT’D)
… for the use of the word ‘buggers’.
CHAIRMAN
I was thinking more of the bit about letting them “kill each other so saving us the trouble”.
FOREIGN SECRETARY
Yes?
CHAIRMAN
Well?
FOREIGN SECRETARY
Well what?
(pause)
Look, the Middle East is a an almighty mess. Has been for around 1,400 years. If I could, I’d build a bloody great wall around the place – with the exception of Israel of course …
RT. HON. JEREMY CORBYN MP
Errm …
FOREIGN SECRETARY (CONT’D)
… and let them get on with it. The trouble is, the economic and social fallout would affect us all here in the civilised West.
A number of left-leaning members of the committee take a sharp intake of breath.
FOREIGN SECRETARY (CONT’D)
That is why I think it’s imperative that we and our Western allies put in place a plan to mitigate against that outcome. Some of the building blocks are already in place here in the West – Falklands and Alaskan oil, fracking, general technological improvements in energy efficiency – which are enabling us to reduce our need for oil from the Gulf and other parts of the world that … wouldn’t be your first choice for a family holiday.
CHAIRMAN
Such as?
FOREIGN SECRETARY
Well, there’s Nigeria, Venez …
DIANNE ABBOTT MP FFRC
(though her mouth is full)
Chair, that is a grossly racist comment and the Foreign Secretary should be ashamed of himself.
FOREIGN SECRETARY
Meh.
CHAIRMAN
I think it’s fair to say that you have already, in your first nine months, established a reputation for straight talking that I’m sure must do nothing for the nerves of the civil servants in the FCO.
FOREIGN SECRETARY
I will let the Permanent Secretary speak for himself.
The PERMANENT SECRETARY manages to control newly acquired nervous tics long enough to emit an indistinguishable noise, before resting his vestigial chin back on the desk.
CHAIRMAN
Right. Anyway, moving back to these emails, they continue:
“He says the UK will be pursuing an active policy of reducing Arab influence and power by both direct erosion and dilution.”
(pause)
Marginally more diplomatic, perhaps, but could you expand?
FOREIGN SECRETARY
As I said a few moments ago, by reducing our reliance on the bloody Arabs for oil, we can ensure that when things blow up again in the ME, we can be insulated from the worst economic effects.
The PERMANENT SECRETARY can just be heard sobbing gently.
CHAIRMAN
So I guess that is what you mean by “dilution”. What about direct erosion? That sounds like code for regime change.
FOREIGN SECRETARY
Regime change doesn’t work in Muslim countries unless you know what you’re replacing it with. Look what happened after Blair’s …
Leftist members of the committee make some coordinated superstitious gesture.
FOREIGN SECRETARY (CONT’D)
… and Mr. Cameron’s efforts.
Conservative members look around each other mouthing “who?” in the time-honoured tradition.
FOREIGN SECRETARY (CONT’D)
If you don’t put in another ‘strong man’ then you just end up with a new civil war and another swarm heading across the Med.
(beat)
No, we should let them fester in their own pit, but by – umm – giving hope to these oppressed by the misogynistic and medieval elements in those Islamic societies – more rights for women, equal treatment for minorities, that sort of thing – we will either create such domestic distractions for the authorities that they’ll leave us alone, or we may just succeed in dragging them away from the 15th century.
CHAIRMAN
That’s an interesting idea, but how?
FOREIGN SECRETARY
The UK has one of the most active equalities industries in the West – indeed, it may be described as the envy of the world.
Leftist committee members nod approvingly. Conservatives look suspiciously at the FOREIGN SECRETARY.
FOREIGN SECRETARY (CONT’D)
I’m sure the Left Liberal Socialist Neo-Trotskyite Little Red Book Coalition members – or whatever they’re calling themselves this week – around this table will agree. I would therefore propose that a force of, say, ten thousand of our finest equality and social justice activists be sent to Saudi Arabia and their neighbours to spread the agenda of equality. I would propose funding this expedition from the Overseas Aid budget.
Colour drains from the faces of Leftist committee members.
CHAIRMAN
This is a … courageous new policy, Foreign Secretary. But how do you think these activists would be received in those countries? To put it bluntly, some may not – errm – make it back. Ever.
FOREIGN SECRETARY
(long pause)
And if that happened, I can give the committee an absolute guarantee that we would not rest until we have used all resources at our disposal to make some representations to the relevant governments in the fashion that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is renowned for.
CHAIRMAN
Right then. Any questions from members of the committee? Maybe Ms. Abbott? Ms. Thornberry?
MS. THORNBERRY’S mouth opens and shuts without sound. MS. ABBOTT looks blank as her mouth opens and shuts to the sound of mastication.
CHAIRMAN
No? Fine. Thank you Foreign Secretary, that will be all.
FADE OUT.