The new political landscape

That all-consuming monster, Brexit, has turned politics upside-down and inside-out.

Tuesday, 29th January 2019, 5:49 am
Updated Tuesday, 29th January 2019, 6:53 am

It’s turned friends into foes, transformed the Cabinet into a kind of menagerie of snarling wild animals, and ravaged the party system.

On top of all that, Brexit is now threatening MPs with having to work longer hours and losing their February “half-term holiday”, as the crucial date of March 29 draws ever nearer. There has even been talk of martial law if a no-deal Brexit is the outcome.

Poor David Cameron is getting the blame for all this - and with some justification. It was he, as the then cocksure Prime Minister, who ordered the referendum - never for a moment believing that the leavers would win. An astonishing error of judgement.

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Nor have the goings-on in Parliament been particularly edifying. Neither the Prime Minister nor Jeremy Corbyn display much, if any, sense of humour or theatrical excitement. Their exchanges across the floor of the House do not change much week after week.

And the doom-mongers on both sides of the argument continue to depress us with their gloom-ridden predictions. The Prime Minister has been accused of perilous brinkmanship, because there is no sign of her altering her stance materially, even after the huge parliamentary defeat of her plan earlier this month. It could be, however, that the, so far, hard-headed Brussels negotiators may cave in, just before the critical date arrives. Something will have to give, to stop the whole affair ending in a complete mess and to ensure that Britain leaves still on good terms with the EU. But which side will be the first to blink?

- Alex Salmond, the former First Minister of Scotland, now faces a series of charges relating to sexual conduct, all of which he strenuously denies.

He was always a consummate politician and frequently had both Labour and Conservative Governments tied in knots with his often caustic interventions. Once, I remember, he defied all convention by interrupting a Budget speech. And he had a ferocious stand-up row with Donald Trump (before he became President) over the golf courses in Aberdeenshire.