Belfast Telegraph

Something will have to give before March 29 but who will blink first?


Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn show little sense of humour during their exchanges in the House of Commons
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn show little sense of humour during their exchanges in the House of Commons
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn show little sense of humour during their exchanges in the House of Commons

By Chris Moncrieff

That all-consuming monster Brexit has turned politics upside-down and inside-out. 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 judgment. 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 and utter mess and to ensure that Britain leaves still on good terms with the EU. But which side will be the first to blink?

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The term "colonisation" is now more or less a dirty word in political circles. But the idea was raised in the House of Lords the other day without, astonishingly, being met by cries of "shame" or worse.

It was suggested that the Government might consider colonising Zimbabwe because of the way that unhappy country is being run at the moment.

It would seem that the new administration that took over there recently after the grisly Robert Mugabe (le was removed from office is no less ruthless than he was.

With widespread rioting and bloodshed, Zimbabwe is a shambles. Nearby Zambia, too, once prosperous and successful, is also run down.

Both countries need an injection of people who can get the economies up-and-running again.

It is a travesty that all the natural riches that these two countries enjoy are not being properly exploited.

There is now a good case for the Government to crack down even harder on the increasing rag-taggle army of litter louts, who are not only disfiguring the streets of our cities, but are also making their ugly presence felt in the countryside as well.

People - described as "morons" by Jeremy Paxman - indiscriminately throw their rubbish out of their moving cars and even abandon unwanted pets by the roadside, which is the depth of cruelty.

Ministers should now consider introducing unlimited fines and long prison sentences for those desecrating the land.

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, says that her husband the Prince of Wales cannot walk past a piece of litter without picking it up and disposing of it properly.

And I remember Margaret Thatcher once gazing at the immaculate, rubbish-free streets of Tel Aviv, comparing them with our own litter-strewn thoroughfares.

The moment she returned to England the-then Prime Minister set about picking up every bit of litter she could find, to the delight of Fleet Street's finest photographers.

But it needs more than a couple of public figures to stop the rot. Tough new laws are urgently required to let offenders know that they will pay a heavy price for their anti-social actions.

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.

Salmond was not particularly popular at Westminster, but you could not ignore him when he was an MP.

He certainly left his mark there.

Belfast Telegraph


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