As we take in the outcomes of the Great Repeal Bill's first phase of approval and the messages being given out by the EU President in his State of the Union address there is plenty of rhetoric being bandied around that illustrates the ill humours being nurtured by Brexit and the wider EU.
In some respects, a belligerent European stance is atypical of their politics for close on a thousand years and the very existence of, first England and then Britain has been like a red rag to many - though not all - of them. And that same underlying sense of Europe and Britain being at odds with each other shows through very readily in the Brexit arena. To lead nations through such troubled times requires individuals of skill, competence one often patience but in all cases the leader sets the tone and embodies the position that one nation will take against another. Such leaders need not only skill and competence, they also require a force of personality, a style of conducting themselves and a palpable purpose that inspires confidence and loyalty. In the EU we see some elements of this, though perhaps that loyalty stems from a political position rather than a national one. In Britain we have had political leaders who have in varying degrees managed the sound bite era well and used a collective approach to leadership (only recently in Mrs May's case). What all the 21st century leaderships of this country have not had is a leader who has been comfortable in their own skin, aware of the challenges and variances of view but strong enough to manage these and promote unity, purpose and faith. Yet Brexit will demand such a leader. It represents the biggest political, constitutional and even national survival challenge since WW2 and, as we saw back in 1940, the well meaning but weak leader in Chamberlain was obliged by necessity to give way to the forceful, opinionated and charismatic style of Churchill. This is another such occasion, but as I look around there is a distinct lack of willing candidature to take up the baton.
So, let me speculate a little further. There is a politician, not of a mainstream political party, who is experienced, competent and charismatic with a personality force to get things done. Unfortunately, the media - perhaps driven by established political alliances - have chosen to denigrate and marginalise this man and he has become a figure of some ridicule and scathing dismissal amongst the old school factions of our establishment. Now I grind no political axe, I have no especial political bias, but I am interested in people who potentially might deliver what Brexit requires quite irrespective of the colours they may wear. I am, of course, talking about Nigel Farage. I have recently watched his response to Jean-Claud Juncker's annual address to the EU and, as on many other occasions, he has skilfully and pointedly taken the concept of the EU apart (and stirred some applause in the process). His oratory, style, knowledge, and sheer dynamism should award him the 'Brit of the Century' award.
Now the traditionalists out there will reel back in horror at the very though of such a character being given a significant leadership role in the Brexit negotiations - after all, isn't he in Ukip ?, isn't he a right wing racist reactionary ?, isn't he the embodiment of the Anti-Christ ? All of these may or may not be true (frankly, I don't care either way) but what is a truism is that Britain will fail to make Brexit a success unless we start to address the challenge with purpose rather than through old fashioned negotiating techniques and ministerial styles. I've nothing against David Davis but he is not the man to deliver Brexit. Unless we find a Nigel Farage or somebody comparable - and quickly - then we will sink further into the slow pace of ping-pong that negotiations currently show. And that is leading us nowhere because we are not leading the negotiation. Leadership is key here and that leader needs the qualities described above to coral his/her team into pushing through the obstructive minutiae that is in the EU's favour to deploy as a smokescreen.
Brexit is a new game and it is too important to play at with existing political and Whitehall machinery. I see no evidence whatever that the British government has a plan, purpose or even a clear objective in delivering Brexit as it needs to be. Someone of Mr Farage's character, temperament, knowledge, experience and strength of personality who is, perhaps, outside of Britain's party political boundaries just could be the choice to make. Highly controversial, I accept. But we're living in a very different world to any we've experienced before. Let's not let party politics and tradition spoil the future. Let us be realistic and appoint the right leader to the job - be that Mr Farage or another - and let's get on with the task.