Boris Johnson’s jibe, accusing May of "wrapping a suicide vest around the UK Constitution", was clearly aimed at headline-grabbing on his part - just like the notorious "£350m/week" pledge for the NHS during the Brexit referendum campaign.
And it did the trick, exactly as it was meant to, before he was replaced on the media stage by another politicking stuntman, Rees-Mogg, with his "alternative plan" for a hard Brexit. Few details are supplied, but these include a "star wars" nuclear shield for Britain - no less! Against whom? And a dedicated task force to protect the Falklands' penguins. Whatever next?
This is the silly season of party conferences, of course. And so for these self-serving politicians, anything goes when it comes to their rivalry for top-dog position. Do the Johnsons and Rees-Moggs believe their own over-the-top statements? Of course not! They're not that stupid! But they're certainly aiming at May's mantle, if not today, certainly tomorrow. This is what this grating noise is all about.
The threats behind the rhetoric
To be sure, this combination of politicking, deception and overbidding is nothing new. It sums up the whole pathetic history of the Brexit saga.
But behind their rhetoric, the rival Tory factions have something in common: whichever form Brexit takes in the end, they want the profits of British capital to be protected at any cost. So, both Johnson and Rees-Mogg are front-loading their Tory conference programme with a pledge to implement Trump-style "radical tax cuts". They especially target the Capital Gains Tax paid by speculators and the finance industry - already among the lowest in Europe!
Meanwhile, May's government is pursuing its plan to cut corporation tax to rock-bottom level, while handing out £10bn/year in tax relief to the 10% richest taxpayers. And, to reassure big business, May will hold a summit with the car giants in Birmingham: not only will her government cover the losses they may incur as a result of the new Brexit customs barriers, but their rival electric car projects will be subsidised by public funds!
So who will foot the bill for this largesse towards the capitalist class? Of course, for these politicians it goes without saying: if profits are to be protected, the working class will have to pay.
And we know this all too well. Haven't we been paying for a decade already? What with standards of living still below their 2008 level, wages rock-bottom due to the explosion of non-jobs, rents going through the roof in the midst of a housing crisis and the on-going collapse of a fund-starved NHS - yes, we know what these politicians are cooking up for us!
"Dealing" a blow to their profit system
However, thanks to our bitter experience over the past decade of crisis, we also already know that we can expect nothing from those who want to tinker around the edges of capitalist exploitation.
So we hear the TUC and various politicians making a vocal stand in favour of a "People's Referendum" over May's future Brexit deal. But what for? Another ballot to "choose" between bad and worse, like the Brexit referendum itself was?
Because the one thing we know is that, deal or no-deal, the outcome of the Brexit saga cannot possibly be "good" for the working class. Quite simply because it is being shaped to suit the greed of the big companies and their shareholders. In fact, don't the Tories unashamedly state that they want a deal which is "good for business"?
Of course, Corbyn and the TUC are demanding a deal which is "good for jobs". But they also want it to be "good for British industry". As if this wasn't a contradiction in terms!
The bank bailout launched by Labour in 2008 was also meant to be "good for the economy". But the hundreds of billions poured into the banks just filled shareholders' pockets, while the bosses replaced decent jobs with low-paid, casual non-jobs and subsequent governments turned the screw of austerity on public services and on the poorest!
As to McDonnell pledging "new rights to gig economy workers", it is a con. First because it is turning a blind eye on the rights that "non-gig" workers have lost across the economy - through subcontracting, casualisation and self-employment. And second, because it stops short of pledging to grant all workers the same rights, regardless of status, industry or nationality.
Ultimately, in this capitalist society, "good for British industry" necessarily means bigger profits for companies and fatter dividends for shareholders - and this cannot be "good for jobs", let alone for wages and conditions, nor for the working class.
The only possible "deal" for us workers, is that the capitalist class should pay for the mess made by their politicians and the chaos of their system. But that's the kind of "deal" that cannot be won at the negotiating table nor in the ballot box, but only by fighting for it, through the class struggle, using our collective strength!