As the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg, the ship’s musicians famously continued to play their instruments as chaos erupted around them. Maybe it was to keep others calm, or maybe it was because, in a state of shock, their reaction was to simply do what they had always done. Today’s Prime Minister's Questions was reminiscent of that scene.
The Prime Minister has just suffered the biggest defeat in the history of British democracy and she now faces the seemingly insurmountable task of winning support for a Brexit deal. If she can’t we will slip into a no-deal scenario, with all the devastating consequences that will have for the UK economy.
On the other side of the House, Jeremy Corbyn presides over a divided party - torn over whether to pursue a second EU referendum or try to shape the government’s deal and move on. After what is now years of obfuscation, he must finally reveal his position on the most important political issue for a generation, but that could split the fragile truce between Labour leavers and remainers for good.
In short it is judgement day for both leaders, who must now forge a way forward in choppy waters. But instead of stepping up they are instead playing the same old tunes that we’ve heard many times before. Theresa May again told MPs they must back her deal, or face either a no-deal Brexit or no Brexit at all - a refrain which we already know to be spectacularly ineffective. From across the dispatch box, Corbyn accused her of being “in denial” but he also had nothing new to say, instead reeling off a list of his usual complaints - housing, inequality, education.
With the hands of history firmly on their shoulders, they are merely going through the (Commons) motions, repeating the same lines and sticking with the same positions, neither of them willing or able to steer the ship. The likelihood is that the Brexit iceberg will eventually sink both their careers. The problem is they are taking us down with them.