Westminster seems to have gone into overdrive over Brexit matters. The PM's subtle re-wording of the so called agreement reached with EU-Remain campaigners has set the cat-amongst-the-pigeons like nothing else could.
It's hard to distinguish whether the Remain lobby group under Dominic Grieve have genuine parliamentary concerns vis-a-viz the right of parliament to challenge any deal done in Brussels or whether they are playing a crafty game of extended prevarication which by default will lead to a collapse of the British negotiating position and a likely continuing EU supremacy over British affairs. One might suspect both motives are involved but the reality is that this pedantic obfuscation and the audible wailing and gnashing of teeth by Grieve's band of mutineers would have, in centuries not so long past, been seen as treason on the one hand and tampering with the rule of law on the other. Neither are edifying nor appealing characteristics in our parliamentarians - they are there to represent their constituents, not the arcane niceties of parliamentary protocols, nor indeed, themselves. We elect the political nature of a government through a parliamentary representative system - imperfect as that may be - and from that platform a government is formed. That is the democratic process we work by - a government cascades down its ideas and proposals through parliament for debate and amendment but not their sabotage. And at the end of such debate the government has the right of veto over parliaments views and positions if it believes there is a question of national interest at stake. Parliament does not make binding decisions on our laws - it sculpts positions which it hopes the government will recognise as advantageous and then the government makes a decision. And parliament shaped the referendum debate, it shaped the Article 50 debate and it shaped the country's proposed departure from the single market and the customs union. It has had its say.
There is precious little time left now before a deal on trade and our future relationship with Europe has to be struck. Whilst I have never been a fan of our chosen negotiating team or its composition or its approach, we are at a position now where that team, like them or not, has to be allowed to focus on what needs to be done without saboteurs trying to undermine every move. I am sure Dominic Grieve thinks he is doing the right thing - but sometimes the right thing is not the necessary thing to be achieved. This is such a moment.
I see Trumpy has ratcheted up the trade war with China by imposing more tariffs on imports into the US. If we cast our minds back 50 or so years we'll all remember how we jested at products coming from Japan and China that were replicas of products made in the West, often jibing that they were the best copies in the world. And since then, China has made an art form out of the theft of technology and by ignoring world patents and normally binding legal protections that the West regards as sacrosanct. Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect a different culture and a different political structure like that of China to recognise the sanctity of such protections - it just isn't in their way of thinking, their way of life and their priorities for growth and widening national prosperity. Yet they pillage the West's ideas, copy them, sell them cheaply and spoil the normal market place structures. In that it is easy to see Trumpy's motives for increasing the scope of tariffs but the wider impact of this has yet to be seen on global trade as a whole. When two giants start squabbling, some of the spectators get a bloody nose too.
The papers report on a government initiative that gambling addiction is to be clinically classed as a medical condition and that the NHS have to start treating it. I am gobsmacked at the thought of this. Here we are in 2018 with an NHS that is reeling from the shock waves of ever increasing workloads, ever increasing numbers of patients, a growing social care problem and countless other pressures. Why on earth do they now intend to load gambling addiction upon them ? Such an addiction may well be a problem but this is not the time to offload that problem onto the NHS and say 'Treat that !' The government needs to re-think this proposal rather than trying to pass the buck to the beleaguered NHS.
I am, however, delighted to see that two moped thugs who ride up, mug and injure people have been given lengthy prison sentences. After one spree where they stabbed a man to death for the sheer sake of it and rode off laughing is cause for concern in our society and where possible we should try and figure where the root of such anti-social behaviour lies - diverse as those roots might be. But the bottom line is that there are some folk out there who are just evil, intractable and unchangeable - and for these I have no sense of leniency. Let their sentences be fully realised without parole. These are people who should not be allowed out on the streets.
Lastly, I return to Brexit with images of the comic 'Brexit' gaining ever widening circulation. Cartooned in the style of the Trumpton characters the illustrator has found an art-form here that resonates with many and depicts our noble political classes as something less than wise and honest in their quest to bring Brexit about. It's good old British, tongue-in-cheek humour and is great ! Carry On Brexit....