At nine o’clock this morning several hundred people were milling about on College Green, across the road from the Houses of Parliament. It felt like a garden party to which rather a large number of photographers had been invited.
At first no one knew anything, but within about half an hour a consensus had emerged from the mass of journalists. Theresa May is fatally wounded, for the party cannot forgive her a mistake like that, and her successor will be either David Davis or Boris Johnson.
Like every consensus, that could be complete nonsense. After all, virtually everyone on College Green had confidently predicted the Conservatives would today be celebrating a much increased majority.
“Who’s in there?” a woman asked, for a scrum of camera people and correspondents had formed outside the white tent being used by BBC Radio Wales.
At the heart of the scrum stood a diminutive figure. John McDonnell, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies, was giving the world the benefit of his views.
When the woman learned the identity of the interviewee, she walked off, saying over her shoulder in a disdainful tone: “Oh he’s been tarting round the whole place.”
Conservative politicians were conspicuous by their absence. If this had been a victory, a rich assortment of Tory notables would have been available.
“No general election, Gimson!” a wild-eyed, dishevelled film-maker cried as he bore down on me. “You told me there would be no general election!”
“Yes,” I replied. “I did. Indeed, I think I can confidently say I have not only been wrong about what would happen, but that I have been more wrong than other people.”
A man from YouGov was looking very happy, for he had been less wrong than other people. “I can feel my feet again,” he said.
“I’m sorry you had a bad night,” I remarked to a friend from UKIP.
“I was quite happy to have a bad night, as long as we got more momentum behind Brexit,” he responded.
“I’ve just been in Downing Street,” someone else said. “It’s like Clapham Junction during the strike.”
“Jeremy Corbyn, c’est vraiment le grand vainqueur,” a French journalist was saying to camera, or something along those lines.
“I tell you who must be really f***ed off,” a British hack remarked. “Yvette Cooper.”
The spectators from the great British press were light-headed from lack of sleep, but having a wonderful time. They were watching a first-class disaster, and it makes a far better story than the predicted triumph would have done.
Not one word of sympathy for the stricken Prime Minister could be heard. Only the onset of rain dampened for a moment this festival of news.