The Prime Minister looked at his reflection in the mirror. Twelve years ago, when the country swept him into power on a torrent of love, the skin below his steel blue eyes was taut and tanned. Now that affection had ebbed away to the tiny trickle of his third election, it sagged towards his cheeks in black wrinkly layers.
It was time to leave. And on his own terms. He and Jenny had made their decision sometime ago. The lecture tours, board positions and consultancies were all lined up. They had no desire to put themselves through a fourth round of the polls which was bound to end in humiliating defeat. He would go with his head held high and his dignity intact.
There was only one question left. The legacy. How was he going to protect that? His successor couldn't do it. A political bruiser with a tendency to lose friends, he would probably manage to hold the party together for the next three years. Then the glorious experiment would end with a pathetic whimper. Which is why the Prime Minister had been preparing for this moment since the day he arrived. And if all had gone well, his next appointment would provide him with the solution he craved.
There was a knock at the door.
"Come in." He looked up eagerly. Had the experiment worked? The special committee entered together, the heads of MI5 and 6, the Foreign Office, and MOD. Behind them walked a man in his late thirties, tall, but not too tall, with an open, engaging face.
"We've done it," said Professor Stanton, the Chief of Government Research. "Let me introduce you to the next elected Prime Minister."
The younger man stood in the centre of the room. He turned towards the Prime Minister and stared at him with his striking blue eyes.
"This country is tired. It has had enough of the old system. The old ways. What this country needs is change a new beginning, a new way of being." He wrung his hands together with a sincere intensity that was captivating.
"It's me," said the Prime Minister, "My DNA slightly rearranged, but really me."
"Of course it is Prime Minister," said Jeremy Barnett, head of MI5."We can place him in the opposition and ensure he takes up the leadership. When the election comes, the people calling for change will, of course, get what they asked for."
The clone looked across at his maker. "What this great nation of ours needs is a robust economy, strong borders and armed forces we can be proud of. I alone can provide you that."
The committee applauded. "Well said, sir,", " I couldn't have put it better myself, sir."
"Congratulations, everyone," said the Prime Minister, "You've done me proud."
The group nodded and trooped out of the room. At the door, Professor Stanton turned and said, "By the way sir, there is another one."
"Just in case. For the other party. If the people are uncertain, and a hung Parliament's on the cards. "
"Good thinking," said the Prime Minister. He wandered over to the window and looked down at the police officers guarding his front door. So reassuring to know that he was safe, and all was well.
The more things change, the more they remain the same.