“A FRIEND who bullies us is no longer a friend,” declared the Prime Minister, as rousing music swelled in the background. “And since bullies only respond to strength, from now onward I will be prepared to be much stronger.”

Cue the crashing of cymbals, an explosion of national pride, and even a dedication on Radio 1 to the “a***-kicking” PM in question.

The context for the rebuke was an arrogant, entitled US President popping across the pond to throw his weight around and force himself on a bewildered catering manager.

Writer and director Richard Curtis has many detractors, but you have to give him credit for this remarkably prescient plot line in Love Actually, 2003's schmaltzy selection box of criss-crossing love stories. Of course it is the stuff of nationalist fantasy: plucky “Great” Britain given the perfect excuse to stick the boot in to cocky America. And Hugh Grant's plummy PM snogging potty-mouthed cockney Martine McCutcheon under the mistletoe was designed to prove to the 9/11 plotters that love will always conquer hate. Or lust will conquer snobbery. Or something.

Yet here we are, back in the stranger-than-fiction real world, and the actual US President is retweeting hate via Britain First then sniping at the actual UK Prime Minister when she indirectly criticises him for it. Meanwhile, she's surrounded on all sides by bully boys in her own party and seems incapable of standing up to any of them, let alone anyone else.

So how does Theresa May want to be remembered? As Emma Thompson, sobbing in the bedroom because she thought she was getting a gold necklace for Christmas – or a Joni Mitchell CD, at very least – but it turned out to be a hard drive packed with pornography? Or Hugh Grant, asserting authority and kicking arse while telling cocksure men to keep their filthy mitts off non-consenting women?

Brexit minister David Davis has reportedly told May that he'll quit if his pal Damian Green is pushed out the door over claims he spent large chunks of the noughties smut-surfing on his Westminster computer. One has to wonder if this is a double-bluff, and a perfect excuse for Davis to pass the hot potato of Brexit responsibility to some other sucker. Giving up and walking away would, of course, look like an act of total cowardice, whereas taking a stand in support of May's right-hand man would be an honourable act of solidarity with, um, right-hand men all across the nation.

Of course, Davis isn't the first Cabinet member to put pressure on the woman in charge. Michael Gove and Boris Johnson have been acting as back-seat drivers in the Brexit clown car ever since the pair of them were very conveniently taken out of the running for a job neither of them actually wanted. The Telegraph described Gove's 11th-hour decision to stand for Tory leader as “the most spectacular political assassination in a generation”, yet somehow both Tweedledum and Tweedledee are still very much alive, writing pompous “secret” letters of instructions to the boss and positioning themselves to pounce as soon as she's finished clearing up their mess.

And then at the weekend we had social mobility advisor Alan Milburn and his entire cross-party team quitting over May's failure to deliver on her promise to build a fairer Britain. The Brexit to which May was firmly opposed is taking up too much of her time, Milburn says, comparing his own task to “pushing water uphill”. But at least no-one's been writing him snotty letters criticising his water-pushing tactics, then leaking them to the press.

It's entirely possible that even without the distraction of Brexit, May would be doing diddly-squat to make the UK a fairer place – she is a Tory, after all – but her Brexit bush tucker trial is being made an awful lot more difficult by her supposed subordinates, who are gleefully throwing cockroaches in her face and mockingly shouting “strong and stable” as she walks a wobbly plank towards agreement with Brussels.

Perhaps now is the time for a clear-out, and the removal of so-called friends who are doing infinitely greater damage to May than GQ's man of the moment on the opposition benches. There's plenty of top talent available, after all. Perhaps Nadine Dorries, who recently admitted to sharing her Westminster log-in details with her entire staff, could be the new Minister of State for Digital. And surely there's a bright future ahead for Sam Gyimah, who appeared to channel another fictional British hero when he appeared on Question Time last week. “It takes great bravery to stand up to your enemies,” he said of the PM's response to Trump. “It takes even more bravery to stand up to your friends.”

Dumbledore would be proud. May should take heed.