In the run up to his fight with Wladimir Klitschko last month, some commentators worried that Anthony Joshua had never fought beyond the seventh round; maybe he would be vulnerable in the home stretch? No, came the reply from the British fighter's team. He had done loads of sparring in the training camp and would be ready. And so it proved. Joshua made it to the 11th round and won the fight.
As Theresa May gets ready for the fight of her life there are lots of reasons to be just as concerned about whether she is fit and ready. The Brexit negotiations are going to be as brutal and difficult as any heavyweight contest. And the wrangle over the terms of our departure will dominate the remainder of the Prime Minister's premiership and define her legacy. Is she ready for the fight?
Given the titanic struggle she faces it is a shame that the PM and her team are as untested and green as the Anthony Joshua of a few weeks ago. The General Election could have been an opportunity for May to gain some valuable ring-time or at least some light sparring. But she is having the gentlest of workouts from a media fixated only on Brexit, 'boys jobs' and the car crash that is the Labour Party. The Conservatives are not shaping up in the training camp of British politics because, frankly, their domestic sparring partners are not up to the job.
In fact Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party has not even turned up to spar. Instead Labour resembles a boxer who has lost his nerve so completely that it won't even come out of the dressing room. Its leading lights are staying put, flailing around desperately, pointlessly and now blaming one another for their failure to perform. Even the Conservatives who might have been expected to start jabbing away at the Prime Minister by now have fallen silent. And so Mrs May stands unopposed in the ring, a winner without breaking a sweat, and in no way ready to take on the much bigger fight to come.
Muhammed Ali once said "the fight is won or lost far away from witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights". The degree to which Theresa May is being allowed to succeed domestically without any serious opposition means we are sending a flabby and complacent fighter into the ring to face the European prize fighters. The election should have forced the Tories to refine their policies, to lay out and improve their approach to Brexit, to become an effective Ministerial unit and to earn the respect of the electorate. None of that is happening. And we will all regret it when the fight becomes tough in a few years' time.Suggest a correction