Parliament’s doors have closed and MP’s have disappeared off for their Christmas hols, with all things Brexit still up in the air, our political correspondent Peter Spencer looks back – and forward – to what it all means…
Goodbye to all that.
Remember the days when government governed? When leaders led? When parliament performed? When MP’s were polite? When cabinet was collective?
Memories as remote as warm beer and cricket (in whites) on the green.
Amazing how quickly stark staring bonkers becomes the new norm.
To readers for whom the ‘B’ word is not Brexit but BORING, apologies.
But the decline from political order and civility, which began on referendum result day, has now degenerated to anarchy and toxicity.
No wonder our wonderful Mother of Parliaments has turned into the crèche that crashed.
Both tragedy and farce.
Indeed, knock out the stakes for the rest of us and it would be funny.
Hard to laugh though when March 29th 2019 really is heaving into view.
Heave is now the byword for most main factions. One last heave and their plan will get through.
Yerright? When there are almost as many factions as there are people? Don’t think so.
Factor in the facts.
Retailers, both High Street and online, are not having a happy Christmas because people are too scared to spend. The penny’s dropping, so to speak.
Civil servants on both sides of the channel really are now working on contingency/emergency/crisis planning if, a matter of weeks from now, everything actually does go tits up.
And neither main party has the slightest idea what to do next.
In fairness to Theresa May, she is at least trying to flog her dead parrot of a plan to anyone who’ll listen.
Labour, by contrast, is led not so much by a Jeremy as Jeremiah. Doom-laden sayings are all very well, a plausible get-out clause would be handy. Any sign of that? Nope.
Not many crumbs of crimble comfort then for their tribesmen and women, slinking away for family respite care.
Instead of the King James bible, their likely focus will be the Westminster equivalent, Erskine May. ‘A Treatise upon the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament’.
Thus will they hope to be bristling with ideas, ancient and modern, obvious and arcane, on how to break the deadlock in the chamber.
Meaning they can all come back, when parliament resumes on January 7th, as little hunchbacked kings.
To quote from Shakespeare: ‘Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, by drunken prophecies, libels and dreams’.
Sounds fun? No. But not far from the likely truth.
And the outcome? If any?
Optimistic commentators predict a possible new and more enlightened political order. In which the stranglehold of party leaders, ministers and whips is loosened.
All very nice, but what about the, ahem, people?
Possible outcomes range from a no-deal economic car crash, through a Norway-style close linkage with the EU, the vague possibility of Mrs May’s less cosy connection and finally a second referendum.
With a slice of older, more leave-minded voters now up in the heavenly superstate, and more young/remain-voting folk added to the register, this could produce a different result.
Or the very idea the electorate’s being invited to think again could harden Brexit-leaning hearts.
The one thing that unites everyone just now is the notion that all bets are off.
You thought 2018 was a tumultuous year? You ain’t seen nothing yet!
Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his wonderful takes on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.
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