Whatever we think of Brexit the single most notable characteristic that has emerged in government is division. We started off with two essential camps of opinion - Leavers and Remainers - which has now spawned a variety of splinter factions that sway between being 'Leavers who want to leave right now and sod the EU' through 'Leavers but not quite as hard headed as we first thought' and 'Remainers still seeing an advantage in the European experiment' through to 'Remainers driven to almost an extreme right wing belief in their righteousness'. Brexit was bound to stir the emotions and feelings of many but it remains the legal position to be followed and any derailment of that flies in the face of the legitimate outcome of the referendum and is anti-democratic, anti-constitutional and downright illegal (in times past it would have been called treason). But there seems to be no stopping the numbers of politicians wanting to have their say. They have their parliamentary privilege, of course, but many who choose to utter their opinions do so with a political advantage theme to their noise - even former politicians are notably doing the same - Tony Blair, David Cameron, John Major amongst them.
The reason why politicians, commentators and other experts are being given air time to voice their views in such divisive ways is mainly due to weak government. There is a lack of cohesion in the Cabinet, a lack of faith in the Brexit project amongst many, a lack of common purpose, a lack of belief in their leadership and a lack of ability to engineer this most extraordinary political manoeuvre. Add to this a very clear indication that those who run the civil service are fighting against a successful Brexit and we end up with something akin to 'trying to push custard uphill with your nose'. This evidence transports itself from the Cabinet itself, the Cabinet Office and the Commons backbenches to the public and exacerbates the divisiveness of the debate.
The realities are nevertheless clear. Brexit is the legal mandate, The Cabinet, the civil service, ex-politicians and political wannabees should not be given the space to derail this important process and the government has the responsibility to impose discipline and rigour to ensure that this does not occur. That we have weak government is much to blame. We also have weak Opposition which makes debates in the Commons often quite farcical in their content. But the two combined enable the EU to dictate terms, conditions, timelines and penalties as if Britain was some errant schoolchild who has to stand before the court of European opinion to explain itself before leaving the EU's sanctified protection. That is not what Brexit represents. Brexit is a democratically stimulated choice. There are no absolutely crystal clear visions of what the future holds whether we stay in or leave the EU but the referendum made that decision to pursue Brexit. We have messed around for nearly two years arguing the case poorly and accepting terms and penalties that no government should have given in to. It is doubly insulting to the electorate for the government to boast what a wonderful outcome in the first phase of the talks was - when, in reality the public have no such faith or belief in what is said to them.
We are probably too far into the morass to start changing the team now - we should have done that 12 months or more ago - but this government needs to get some steel into its voice and actions. Negotiation is a two-way street. It should not be the endless capitulations we see from our demonstrably inept negotiators. Toughen up, be bold and push for Britain Mrs May, ditch your favourite theme of 'it's all about me' and do not be afraid to walk away from the EU having not accepted their demands. Nobody will blame a government for walking away from wholly unacceptable diktats from a bunch of over-privileged bureaucrats in Brussels - in fact, that may well be our best option now.
I read that samples of the chemical agent used in the Syrian air attack on civilians is going to be checked out in The Netherlands under the scrutiny of the OPCW. They have excellent analytical skills in The Netherlands for carrying out this task and we must hope that they find some undeniable linkage to the Syrian government authorities through this process. However, Syria and its supporter/banker, Russia, are unlikely to accept any critique resulting from this analysis so the prospect of further air strikes against the regime remain the most likely continuance of this saga. Let us all hope that wisdom prevails.