“This is a great time to be alive,” British Prime Minister Theresa May declared, with the closest she gets to political passion.
But as her audience of bemused accountants - all six storeys of them - pressed their noses against the glass atrium, they looked like tourists at a zoo watching a strange creature slowly breathe its last.
Like her Brexit plans, like this zombie Parliament, the prime minister has for months now been neither living nor dead.
And as she tried one final time to resurrect her compromise package, the latest alterations made her Frankenstein’s monster of a deal look even more unappealing to MPs of all stripes.
The event at the PWC office block in Charing Cross began with unintentional humour as her host introduced the PM with the line: “Like all business leaders we crave certainty and stability...here’s Theresa May.”
To be fair, the actual speech itself was one of the most honest, personal and simply argued of her premiership.
There was a rare touch of self-awareness, as she admitted that finding a Brexit compromise “has proved even harder than I anticipated”.
There was the glimmer of regret as she said her offer “to give up the job I love earlier than I would like” hadn’t persuaded her Brexiteer MPs to support her.
There was even a pop at David Cameron, the man who reduced the complexity of the EU to a binary in-out referendum, and Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, the men who ran with it.
“The challenge of taking Brexit from the simplicity of the choice on the ballot paper to the complexity of resetting the country’s relationship with 27 of its nearest neighbours was always going to be huge,” she said.
Setting a valedictory tone, May said her repackaged deal would provide “one last chance” to deliver Brexit, itself confirmation that she won’t be sticking around if it’s defeated a fourth time.
But her main pitch was that this was a ‘new’ offer to MPs. In case we hadn’t got the point, she said the phrase ‘New...