I am writing this letter, of all places, from Khartoum. It is not so hot here as I feared it might be, but things are certainly getting hotter back home. The cabinet is falling apart; the PM is on holiday; and the Chancellor is on the rampage. I thought I ought to confide in you that (in all modesty) I think my time has probably come.
You will remember that I suggested a cross-party commission to steer the Brexit negotiations, chaired by an honest and trusted broker (i.e. ME!) Well, my guess is that they have tied themselves in such knots that they now have no other option. I am expecting the letter to arrive at Lambeth any moment.
This is my Thomas Beckett moment! How was it Eliot phrased it: ’To be the king’s right hand, no, be the King’? (I only saw an amateur production in a church hall in Wythenshawe, so I can’t be sure). But I confess that I am getting cold feet already. Does martyrdom lie waiting? Can I do it? Could anyone do it? Should I take it on?
I know you will come out with your usual evasion: ‘who am I to judge?’ But, Frank, this is serious! It could be the making of me. Do try to give some sort of a steer to a chap. Isn’t that what Popes are for?
Yours in confused elation,