WOOLEY. What if the Prime Minister insists we help them?
SIR APPLEBY. Then we follow the four-stage strategy.
WOOLEY. What’s that?
SIR WHARTON. Standard Foreign Office response in a time of crisis.
SIR WHARTON. In stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
SIR APPLEBY. Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
SIR WHARTON. In stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there’s nothing we can do.
SIR APPLEBY. Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it’s too late now.
A political manual for the ages.