NOT for the first time during this election, the BBC yesterday attempted to ride to the aid of Theresa May. During yesterday’s breakfast news programme, one of their senior political reporters was asked to shed some light upon that dinner date with Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission President.

Well-placed European sources have described the events that unfolded at this gathering in a similar vein to that of the eye-witnesses at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. The UK Prime Minister was described as being “deluded” in her expectations for the upcoming Brexit talks. So badly briefed was she, and so out of touch with the European position, that senior European officials are fearful the Brexit negotiations will fail.

Years from now historians may well refer to May’s “chez nous” as her “Black Dinner”. The BBC chap was palpably having none of this. In a response that could have been scripted by Conservative Central Office he rambled on about this being “gossip” and “gossip-mongering”. This considered analysis was then followed by him discussing the lingering scent of aftershave in the studio left by Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates who’d been in earlier. He ended this world-class piece of political analysis by telling us that this is what politicians do to try to impress people like him.

Perhaps the Europeans, anxious to put Ms May on the back foot before the start of the Brexit talks, have exaggerated the Prime Minister’s performance at last week’s dinner. If that is true then perhaps someone from the massed ranks of the BBC’s political reporters might have explained why the Europeans, who also want a quick and efficient conclusion to the negotiations, would try to sabotage May’s position this early in the game. If anything, I would have expected them to play down any signs of ignorance or incompetence in the Prime Minister’s approach.

It suggests they must genuinely have been taken aback by the size of the hole in May’s basic understanding of Brexit. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, time is fixed for the Mad Hatter at 6.00pm forever. Those of us familiar with the bizarre story of Britain’s decision to leave Europe will have observed that time for the Brexiteers has been fixed at some point in the middle of the 18th century. All attempts at loosening the bonds of their diurnal existence have since been resisted. For them, Britain means an England of Test Match Special, warm beer, maidens in white flannel dresses and bespectacled reverends in straw hats cycling to church for evensong. In a corner of the Empire another land of godless natives is being exploited for the glory of good Queen Vic. They are forever trapped inside Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard: Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast The little tyrant of his fields withstood; Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest, Some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood.

The truth vacuum that exists at the centre of Theresa May’s attitude and approach to Brexit suggests that her desperate attempts to dismiss the Europeans’ account of the Black Dinner should be ignored. The Prime Minister was a half-hearted Remainer, realising full well that her political ambitions would not be best served nailing her colours fully to that mast. Despite this she has pursued the hardest of Brexits and failed to correct the crude and false propaganda disseminated by the Brexiteers before the EU referendum. She effectively endorsed it by making Boris Johnson her Foreign Secretary.

Weeks after she vowed not to call a snap General Election she then did so; on the pretext that she needed a bigger majority to silence all parliamentary opposition. Cromwell would have appreciated that one. It wasn’t long after she had subverted the will of the Scottish Parliament to have a referendum on independence. “Now is not the time,” she told us as we ought instead all to be pulling together to help her achieve the best Brexit deal.

Thus, just as the Leave campaign was an assortment of half-truths, quasi-racist posturing and downright falsehoods so May’s Brexit strategy has been characterised by false assumptions and arrogance. She has tried to convince her followers that the remaining 27 states will somehow treat favourably with Britain and turn a blind eye to us ending free movement and failing to guarantee the rights of EU nationals. According to the influential German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, the astonished European Commission President pulled two piles of paper from his bag – Croatia’s entry deal and the free trade deal with Canada, which took almost eight years to conclude. This will not be a two-year process. Which version are we to believe?

The Black Dinner has been the nadir thus far of a chaotic start to the Prime Minister’s election campaign. Her insistence on repeating the phrase “strong and stable government” so often that she has rendered it meaningless is now being pilloried by some of her own pet commentators among the right-wing press.

Her visit to Scotland was utterly bizarre and consisted of her dodging the free press while knocking forlornly on the doors of empty houses. It concluded with a nauseous “interview” with her Scottish lieutenant Ruth Davidson whose own campaign north of the Border has scarcely been less disorderly than the Prime Minister’s.

Davidson’s entire campaign has already been rendered obsolete by two opinion polls in the last 72 hours which have destroyed her one and only campaign claim: that Scots don’t want another referendum.

One poll indicated that the SNP would be entitled to call a referendum if they won more than half of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats. The same poll put support for some form of independence at 51 per cent. Davidson now has nowhere else to go.

Nor has her boss. Her massive lead is already beginning to evaporate as it’s become clear that she has taken the support of many British people for granted. By avoiding the scrutiny of the press and body-swerving real people May is behaving as though she is conducting a coronation rather than an election. Meanwhile, her party hacks have failed to shut down lingering accusations that the Tories bought the 2015 election through alleged electoral fraud.

As a disbelieving Europe tries to comprehend the Tories’ arrogance and dishonesty over Brexit it’s become clear that May has called this election in a desperate bid to escape scrutiny in three years’ time. Running away has been the Prime Minister’s favoured tactic in the first two weeks of the campaign. But she can’t keep running forever.