The chances of my 20-year-old student son being at an Ariana Grande concert on a Monday night were, my head told me, zero. But as I watched ambulances converge on the arena, my maternal heart was in my mouth. Oliver had just been to the premier league darts at the venue (like me, there is no sport my son doesn’t enjoy watching). I called. No answer. I sent a text. ‘Don’t go near Manchester Arena — explosion.’ Then another one. ‘Let me know you’re OK.’ He was. But those teenagers, all those girls. Eight years old. The nation weeps for other people’s children.
The day I went Yellow Tory and joined the Lib Dems, I got a two-word text from David Davis, the Brexit secretary. ‘Lib Dem?’ My two-word text back: ‘For now.’ That evening, I was on the stage of the home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Cecil Sharp House, in Primrose Hill. Alongside me was the people’s snowflake, Gary Lineker, one of the few public influentials who shares my EU-philia and my view that the PM’s refusal to allow both MPs and the public any buyers’ remorse in the shape of a meaningful vote on the deal is the opposite of democracy and good government. ‘You’re the only proper opposition now!’ I said to him. ‘I think you should be in politics.’ Even the Corbynistas in the auditorium rustled their plastic bags with approval. At the drunken dinner afterwards, the next step was clear. Gary (six million Twitter followers to Corbyn’s less than a million and the Lib Dems’ scant 184,000) should be the new Macron of the middle ground. But what to call our new party? In the back room of Odette’s restaurant, some of Remain’s best brains — among them Jemima Khan, Piers Morgan, Emma Tucker and host Alain de Botton — stopped their jabber for a second.