There is a seeming pause in our uncertain slide toward Brexit. Negotiations appear non-existent with just the odd grenade or two being tossed about by the EU or by our government to keep the impression of 'something happening'. Everything now hangs on the interminable debate on some form of customs arrangement - partnership, maxfax, associate membership, common agreements, etc, etc. There is no clear vision here as all proposed options have detractors who can prevent any one method being focussed upon. Add to that the rather important scenario that the EU themselves don't like any of the British ideas and we can create a picture that, by default, we will reach a position of no-agreement with the EU by next March.
Whilst a non-agreement might satisfy our Brexit blood lust the practicalities of just bailing out are more serious. It is not a matter of there being no alternatives - we could adopt the WTO rules whilst we set up trade agreements elsewhere - and this is a perfectly feasible game-plan if the EU make it their mission to block any other form of trade agreement. Not perfect, but workable. Yet if we look at the state of the EU and perhaps more significantly, the Eurozone, we already see the decay setting in. Italy now has a distinctly 'hostile to the EU' government, Greece is potentially a following detractor and even Germany is grinding its teeth at the prospect of having to fund more of the EU's munificence. It won't be long before even the French find the future of the EU less appealing. As for Eastern European members - I don't think any of them have felt particularly comfortable with EU bureaucracy yet they have been the prime beneficiaries of EU funded projects. We'll have to observe that bloc carefully.
The upshot of all this is that our government should be taking the lead here. At the moment it is cowering in a bunker and waiting for the next EU grenade to land whereas it should be assertively pushing our case for leaving and the terms upon which that might be achieved. But no. Our government is made up of characters who are both divided in outlook but also distinctly short on grit and protecting the national interest. Accompanying the government is an apparently headless civil service. Poor management, lack of vision and a capacity to provide weak advice to politicians may be the result of that very weak government but it is also a mark of a service that has little faith in what it is trying to achieve. This exacerbates the growing feeling that we will get to March, 2019 without a proper deal. And whilst we would survive and likely prosper after a period of settlement it is much more preferable to get the trade deal we want with the EU at this time when they, as a bloc, are less formidable. And that process does require strong leadership, commitment and belief in the proper outcome and a level of vision that doesn't let the Irish border saga become the defining criteria for our Brexit terms.
Elsewhere in Britain we are seeing big changes in the way our towns and cities are structured with retail chains closing down in ever increasing numbers. Are we destined to all become online shoppers ? But perhaps this is natural change, the change that comes from our social evolution (whether we like that or not) and which reflects the changing habits of a new generation that holds different values and needs. We know when we are getting older when this sort of change rattles our cage bars a bit !
Our official enquiries into - usually disasters - seem to last forever and come up with slow and ponderous recommendations that most of us thought common sense at the outset. The Grenfell incident, horrific in every way, now has the report on it telling us that the cladding burnt and was not suitable for building with. To be sure, didn't everyone make that deduction a long time ago ? Why is their no recommendation to stop the production of such cladding, let alone its use, why is there no government initiative to move faster on this and secure other comparably jerry built properties that fall under their remit ? We will never get away from some organisations cheating their way to winning a contract but as a nation we have a duty to identify the problems quickly and take action. The primary task of governance is to provide a safe and fearless environment for its citizens. We can't achieve that in its entirety but we can move faster where we know what should be done. Government grit - need I say more ?
Old Trumpy has declared he'll play a round or two of golf when he visits Britain in July. That pre-supposes he hasn't been rolled over by the Chinese or North Koreans by then. Now if they were to pay us a handsome sum, maybe we could roll him over too - is it not beyond the bounds of possibility that a standard British howling gale might blast his hairdo into disarray ? We can but hope.