Belfast Telegraph

Lindy McDowell: Confused by Brexit? Here’s my simple A-Z guide to the past week

Theresa May
Theresa May
Dame Mary Peters
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Dame Mary Peters at the Empire Music Hall
Holly Willoughby

By Lindy McDowell

I've mentioned in this column before how I fear for the schoolchildren of the future who will someday have to sit down in a history lesson and try to get their heads around Brexit.

How are they supposed to understand it when those of us who are living through it can't keep up?

Every week there's a new barrage of fallouts, suggestions, U-turns, demands and dismay. This has led to various efforts to simplify Brexit developments and terminology in handy A to Zs.

I'm not actually sure "simplify" is the right word. But here goes for this week...

A is for Amendments, which Brexiteers insist must be made to Mrs May's plan.

B is for Backbench revolts, which have been happening all-round this week.

Especially among those who are concerned about the dangers of C for Crashing out of the EU.

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Even though Mrs May has finally conceded this week that there could be a D for Delay past March 29.

This potential E for Extension has not, however, placated her critics who demand an assurance of F for Future Fully Free-Flowing trade.

Among them is Jeremy Corbyn, who this week dismissed the PM's handling of negotiations as G for Grotesquely reckless.

But the Labour leader suffered an H for Hammer blow of his own when a group of MPs quit the party.

Meanwhile, for the DUP, who prop up Mrs May, the concern continues to be over an I for Indefinite backstop.

Hard, soft or indefinite, the border issue has dominated negotiations for some time with various parties arguing that changes to the status quo could J for Jeopardise the Belfast Agreement.

And as Mrs May gets on with K for Kicking the can further down the road, Brexiteers now demand L for Legally binding changes to the backstop.

The PM this week offered the Commons yet another M for Meaningful vote (is there any other kind of vote at Westminster? A Meaningless vote?).

This will give MPs a chance to decide on her deal. If they reject it they will then get the chance to vote on whether there should be an N for "No-deal" Brexit.

As opposed to a straightforward N for No deal Brexit.

Amidst the political wrangling economists have this week been O for Outlining tariffs and further trade complications which, they say, a split with the EU would entail.

This week the focus has been on P for Pallets, which post-Brexit may not meet EU standards. Apparently they will require heat treatment (something that will raise a few eyebrows within the local bonfire community who are not strangers to the concept of heat treating pallets...)

All this yet again raises for many people a huge Q for Question mark over whether there should be a second R for Referendum.

Mrs May this week described voting for her deal as S for Simples, leading critics to dub her - for obvious reasons - Theresa Meerkat.

Among these critics are T for TIG, The Independent Group of breakaway Tory and Labour dissidents such as Mr U for Umunna, who insists it is U for Urgent that V for Voters be given a final say on whether they want a W for Withdrawal.

Over in the EU, X for eXpats have been told that they face potential passport delays and problems over driving licences and health care.

And back in Westminster Y for Yvette Cooper continues to carry the standard of the Remain faction.

But all this posturing, arguing, grandstanding, backbiting, bickering, and Commons clashing has resulted, once again, in Z for Zero progress.

Bringing us back, inevitably, to A.

And Another week of Absolute shambles...

I no longer adore adorable

Adorable. I am so sick of adorable. The word is currently used ad nauseam in reference to just about everything from dogs wagging their tails to members of the royal family looking into each other's eyes. Babies are adorable. Toddlers are adorable. You can watch adorable moments online where adorable kittens snuggle up to their adorable owners. You can buy adorable dresses by adorable Holly Willoughby. It's just too, too much. I'm sick of all this adoration.

Labour clearly in a sorry mess

Insincere apology of the week came from MP Chris Williamson, a Jeremy Corbyn crony, after he'd been pulled up over remarks he'd made about Labour's ongoing reluctance to tackle anti-Semitism. According to Mr Williamson (who's been suspended), Labour has been "too apologetic" about this. He later issued an apology over his crass comments about apologies. But he has since backtracked claiming there is "no evidence" against him. No wonder Labour's in such a sorry mess.

Everything Dame Mary does is gold standard

She is one of Northern Ireland's great sporting heroes, having won gold in the pentathlon at the 1972 Olympics and, in those darkest of days of the Troubles, bringing glory and joy to a country with precious little else to celebrate.

But Dame Mary Peters is more than just our Golden Girl of sport, to use the title she acquired back then.

In the years since she has worked tirelessly and selflessly not just to promote sport among the young, but to use it to bring together people from all backgrounds.

That work has been recognised before, of course, with her well-deserved damehood. And now she has been appointed by the Queen to the Order of the Garter, the UK's oldest and most senior Order of Chivalry.

Her proper title will be Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter - a bit of a mouthful.

And as the Duke of Cambridge made clear during his visit to Northern Ireland this week, nobody is more deserving of that honour.

"Mary Peters is not only one of the United Kingdom's sporting legends, she's also inspired generation after generation to come together in times of trouble and work for the common good - a lesson I hope many of us can learn from," he said.

Her sporting achievements, her inspirational work, her legend are etched into the history and heart of this place.

Dame Mary Peters is also one of the kindliest and loveliest of women.

In every sense, pure gold.

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