The launch of the great Tory schism at a press conference thsi week belonged more to the province of the arts critic than the political analyst. The three defectors – Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen – gave a performance that, if set to music, would have qualified as comic opera.

First up was Heidi Allen, who described the epiphany that brought her into politics, to which she had previously been indifferent, as long ago as 2011, when she saw the Tottenham riots on television. “It was as if Lord Kitchener was pointing his finger out of the screen at me: ‘Your country needs you’.” (Is Ben Elton writing their scripts?)

Pausing to render tribute to David Cameron in “Poor Parnell – my dead king!” mode, Mrs Allen saluted the inspiration she had received from Dave’s Big Society vision – a response that puts her, among the British population of 66 million, in a small minority.