IN PRAISE OF THE STIFF UPPER LIP

IN PRAISE OF THE STIFF UPPER LIP

It has been interesting to watch the unfolding saga of Prince Harry versus the press (a battle you would think his personal history would tell him he was likely to lose.)

I am not someone who has a great deal of natural sympathy for the royal family. I recall as a child of perhaps 5 or 6 being marched with my school class, complete with flags which had been issued to us, and being made to stand for a very long time until a large car drove past with two ladies in it. The one on the far side waved (the Queen Mother). I thought (but had the wit not to say), we waited all that time for that?

However, who could not feel compassion for Harry as a 13 year old boy when in the full glare of publicity he suffered the tragic loss of his mother; the axe mark of which damage will remain on his psyche all his life.

Whenever Diana was mentioned, William’s face would remain quite impassive, whereas Harry would shimmer with unresolved grief. (This is not necessarily good for William of course.)

Harry appears to be a nice fellow. (Perhaps he is rather too much like his mother.) He is charming, kind, encouraging… There is much to be said in his favour. However, he is now more mature and you would expect him to be able to form a more detached view about the death of his mother. Clearly he has not achieved a reasonable conclusion. It is not the case that every photographer and/or pressman is a wicked person. Some sections of the Press did not behave well over the death of Diana, but she herself was not blameless. She was being driven at high speed by an (allegedly) drunk driver and she wore no seatbelt. She had been manipulative and had tried to use the press for her own agenda. She was attention seeking, and certainly did not appear to be ready to retire into private life and devote herself to her children. These would be painful facts for him to contemplate and no-one would expect the boy prince to grapple with them, but by now you would expect him to have arrived at a more balanced conclusion.

There is also the fact that the advice his wife gives him about how to deal with the British is liable to be wrong. Americans tend to assume that Britain is like a smaller, poorer version of themselves, whereas we are altogether different. The Americans genuinely admire their rich and famous; whereas our attitude is altogether more sceptical and ambivalent.

In deciding to sue the Press, I would imagine that Harry has chosen to ignore royal family and government advice to the contrary. There are two institutions (there may be more)whom it is inadvisable to take on. These are the Press and the Police. You will lose.

Harry does not seem to realise the vulnerability of his position. We live in perilous times and the most the royal family would seem able to expect ( if indeed it survives Prince Charles) is a pared down monarchy, where there is just the Head of State and the heirs acknowledged as ‘royal’. At the present time they have heirs and to spare for three generations. Harry is not necessary to them.

I wish Prince Harry, as an individual, well, and his wife and child.

It is not always in people’s best interests to let everything hang out and to reveal all your woes amd travails. Sometimes the stiff upper lip has much to recommend it.

a

GENERAL ELECTION BLUES

So we have before us the thrilling prospect of five weeks of campaigning for a General Election. Just what we wanted (I don’t think.) Look at the choices before us.

There’s the minor parties. Brexit never seem to do much in electoral terms but appear to be able to influence the result since if they post candidates they split the Tory vote, giving Labour an advantage. Voting for them is buying a pig in a poke. We don’t know who they are.

There’s the Greens, do-goody and no doubt with merit, but never particularly appealing.

There’s the National Parties for Scotland and Wales whom even I am beginning to find tiresome in that they can’t seem to rise above their one issue.

There’s the DUP, who were never going to agree to anything and it was naïve of Theresa May to waste time on them. I sometimes wonder if we offered Ulster to Eire as a present, whether they would accept it or decline on the grounds of it being too much bother. (Obviously, I jest).

Then we come to the Liberals with their presumptuous, garrulous leader. I don’t think they’re entitled to call themselves Liberal Democrats as the Wee Gnaff in charge of them declares they’re going to fight to remain with everything they’ve got. On what authority, I wonder?

Tthe Labour Party seems haunted by accusations of anti-semitism it appears unable to shake off, and though I think Jeremy Corbyn is a much more formidable opponent than he at first appears, some of their policies would raise your eyebrows at the very least. I would never endorse the sending of any child to boarding school, but people should have the right to educate their children (and spend their money) how they choose and the State should not asset strip such institutions for its own purposes. Smacks of Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries.

Finally we come to the Tories themselves who are the cause of all our present woes. David Cameron did not think enough before he acted and his offering of a referendum on the issue of our EU membership has been catastrophic for British politics – and he did this solely to (as he supposed it would) call off the rabid dogs of anti European feeling that existed within his own party and had been the bane of every conservative Prime Minister of recent times.

None of them have been able to set aside party interests and act for the nation. It’s a mess in every possible respect and there’s no health in any of them.

I toyed with the idea of not voting. I don’t approve of the actions of any of them. But then I though that was feeble. They haven’t behaved well but we, the people, should continue to vote ethically and with conscience. (It is of course possible to do this and vote for different parties. We have to be respectful and tolerant of one another’s view.)

In the referendum I voted to remain. We all know now that the country voted to leave. If we were offered another referendum, I would again vote to remain. But we haven’t been offered another referendum, and therefore the first one still stands. As someone who believes in democracy, I believe we should support the referendum. I’m therefore going to vote for the party which in my view is most likely to be able to effect our leaving the EU (preferably with a deal and on reasonable terms with our neighbours.) So I’m going to reverse the habits of a lifetime and vote Tory. My ancestors will disown me.

The result is unpredictable but I would guess Boris will increase his majority but not significantly and parliament will still be hung.

new words

PROROGATION

I love it when a new word arrives in our language. Well, the word I have in mind is not exactly new. Genuinely new words are generally born of modern technology, and here I have to confess that even when given an easy words explanation suitable for persons of low intellect, I have only a very vague idea of what it actually means.

Let’s take SatNav for example. I know it’s a shortened form of Satellite Navigation. This is, I would suggest, A Good Thing. I don’t know how we’d find our way about London without it. You put in your desired destination and it produces a map with yourself on it, and you follow your route on the map on the real road and it gets you to where you want to go. (Sometimes.) Ours once led us onto a dirt track in the middle of a field of cabbages, with a rusting shed nearby and announced, You have reached your destination. John (and Rory) are extremely reliable on the time and place of a meeting. If they say they will be, let us say at 98 Clontarf Road, Dublin on 26 August at 3 pm, then they will be sliding silently into place at 2. 59 pm. The downside of this is extreme stress if they are going to be late. John is also extremely reluctant to ask for directions. He seems to regard it as a point of honour that he shouldn’t. However, here there was no alternative. We quit the cabbage field and enquired in the next village. He came back all smiles. We were in Portugal, not Spain, and it was an hour earlier than we had thought, and the hotel where we were meeting Anne Hall and her mother was just down the road, on the right.

However, I digress. Returning to the word SatNav; I don’t know whether I’m rendering it correctly; if it should be hyphenated, or spelt differently. But who cares, it’s not a ‘real’ word.

The word that is new to me (and should you be familiar with it, I bow low before your superior education) is PROROGUE. It’s apparently how Boris is going to emasculate parliament so he can get a No Deal Exit.

We were in a potting shed in Nyman’s gardens where they sell second hand books for £1 each. I spotted a book by one Adrian Room entitled Dictionary of Confusing Words and Meanings and fell on it with geeky pleasure.

Here on the first page is prorogation, along with abolition and dissolution. Abolition is the strongest and was applied to things generally held to be wrong, such as slavery and hanging. Dissolution was the taking apart of something (permanently) so a dissolution of parliament, or Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Prorogation is the discontinuing of parliamentary sittings without an actual dissolution. It is a perilous undertaking; persons who have attempted it in the past include Charles I, and Cromwell with his wonderful quote: I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, consider ye might be mistaken. They didn’t think so then and they don’t now. When Jo Swinton, latest leader of the Lib-dems and as annoying a wee gynaff as you could hope to see – we’re going to get mighty sick of the sound of her voice – says she’ll fight with everything she’s got (I don’t think we need worry – it’s not a lot!) to prevent us from leaving Europe, I wonder how she’s got the nerve to call herself a democrat.

Perhaps she thinks (another useful entry in the book) she has refuted the arguments against following the referendum’s vote. But she hasn’t of course. She has only rebutted them.

Lots of fascinating things we can consider and discuss. What do you mean, you’d rather be in parliament​?,

PROROGATION

I love it when a new word arrives in our language. Well, the word I have in mind is not exactly new. Genuinely new words are generally born of modern technology, and here I have to confess that even when given an easy words explanation suitable for persons of low intellect, I have only a very vague idea of what it actually means.

Let’s take SatNav for example. I know it’s a shortened form of Satellite Navigation. This is, I would suggest, A Good Thing. I don’t know how we’d find our way about London without it. You put in your desired destination and it produces a map with yourself on it, and you follow your route on the map on the real road and it gets you to where you want to go. (Sometimes.) Ours once led us onto a dirt track in the middle of a field of cabbages, with a rusting shed nearby and announced, You have reached your destination. John (and Rory) are extremely reliable on the time and place of a meeting. If they say they will be, let us say at 98 Clontarf Road, Dublin on 26 August at 3 pm, then they will be sliding silently into place at 2. 59 pm. The downside of this is extreme stress if they are going to be late. John is also extremely reluctant to ask for directions. He seems to regard it as a point of honour that he shouldn’t. However, here there was no alternative. We quit the cabbage field and enquired in the next village. He came back all smiles. We were in Portugal, not Spain, and it was an hour earlier than we had thought, and the hotel where we were meeting Anne Hall and her mother was just down the road, on the right.

However, I digress. Returning to the word SatNav; I don’t know whether I’m rendering it correctly; if it should be hyphenated, or spelt differently. But who cares, it’s not a ‘real’ word.

The word that is new to me (and should you be familiar with it, I bow low before your superior education) is PROROGUE. It’s apparently how Boris is going to emasculate parliament so he can get a No Deal Exit.

We were in a potting shed in Nyman’s gardens where they sell second hand books for £1 each. I spotted a book by one Adrian Room entitled Dictionary of Confusing Words and Meanings and fell on it with geeky pleasure.

Here on the first page is prorogation, along with abolition and dissolution. Abolition is the strongest and was applied to things generally held to be wrong, such as slavery and hanging. Dissolution was the taking apart of something (permanently) so a dissolution of parliament, or Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Prorogation is the discontinuing of parliamentary sittings without an actual dissolution. It is a perilous undertaking; persons who have attempted it in the past include Charles I, and Cromwell with his wonderful quote: I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, consider ye might be mistaken. They didn’t think so then and they don’t now. When Jo Swinton, latest leader of the Lib-dems and as annoying a wee gynaff as you could hope to see – we’re going to get mighty sick of the sound of her voice – says she’ll fight with everything she’s got (I don’t think we need worry – it’s not a lot!) to prevent us from leaving Europe, I wonder how she’s got the nerve to call herself a democrat.

Perhaps she thinks (another useful entry in the book) she has refuted the arguments against following the referendum’s vote. But she hasn’t of course. She has only rebutted them.

Lots of fascinating things we can consider and discuss. What do you mean, you’d rather be in parliament​?,

PROROGATION

I love it when a new word arrives in our language. Well, the word I have in mind is not exactly new. Genuinely new words are generally born of modern technology, and here I have to confess that even when given an easy words explanation suitable for persons of low intellect, I have only a very vague idea of what it actually means.

Let’s take SatNav for example. I know it’s a shortened form of Satellite Navigation. This is, I would suggest, A Good Thing. I don’t know how we’d find our way about London without it. You put in your desired destination and it produces a map with yourself on it, and you follow your route on the map on the real road and it gets you to where you want to go. (Sometimes.) Ours once led us onto a dirt track in the middle of a field of cabbages, with a rusting shed nearby and announced, You have reached your destination. John (and Rory) are extremely reliable on the time and place of a meeting. If they say they will be, let us say at 98 Clontarf Road, Dublin on 26 August at 3 pm, then they will be sliding silently into place at 2. 59 pm. The downside of this is extreme stress if they are going to be late. John is also extremely reluctant to ask for directions. He seems to regard it as a point of honour that he shouldn’t. However, here there was no alternative. We quit the cabbage field and enquired in the next village. He came back all smiles. We were in Portugal, not Spain, and it was an hour earlier than we had thought, and the hotel where we were meeting Anne Hall and her mother was just down the road, on the right.

However, I digress. Returning to the word SatNav; I don’t know whether I’m rendering it correctly; if it should be hyphenated, or spelt differently. But who cares, it’s not a ‘real’ word.

The word that is new to me (and should you be familiar with it, I bow low before your superior education) is PROROGUE. It’s apparently how Boris is going to emasculate parliament so he can get a No Deal Exit.

We were in a potting shed in Nyman’s gardens where they sell second hand books for £1 each. I spotted a book by one Adrian Room entitled Dictionary of Confusing Words and Meanings and fell on it with geeky pleasure.

Here on the first page is prorogation, along with abolition and dissolution. Abolition is the strongest and was applied to things generally held to be wrong, such as slavery and hanging. Dissolution was the taking apart of something (permanently) so a dissolution of parliament, or Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Prorogation is the discontinuing of parliamentary sittings without an actual dissolution. It is a perilous undertaking; persons who have attempted it in the past include Charles I, and Cromwell with his wonderful quote: I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, consider ye might be mistaken. They didn’t think so then and they don’t now. When Jo Swinton, latest leader of the Lib-dems and as annoying a wee gynaff as you could hope to see – we’re going to get mighty sick of the sound of her voice – says she’ll fight with everything she’s got (I don’t think we need worry – it’s not a lot!) to prevent us from leaving Europe, I wonder how she’s got the nerve to call herself a democrat.

Perhaps she thinks (another useful entry in the book) she has refuted the arguments against following the referendum’s vote. But she hasn’t of course. She has only rebutted them.

Lots of fascinating things we can consider and discuss. What do you mean, you’d rather be in parliament​?,

PROROGATION

I love it when a new word arrives in our language. Well, the word I have in mind is not exactly new. Genuinely new words are generally born of modern technology, and here I have to confess that even when given an easy words explanation suitable for persons of low intellect, I have only a very vague idea of what it actually means.

Let’s take SatNav for example. I know it’s a shortened form of Satellite Navigation. This is, I would suggest, A Good Thing. I don’t know how we’d find our way about London without it. You put in your desired destination and it produces a map with yourself on it, and you follow your route on the map on the real road and it gets you to where you want to go. (Sometimes.) Ours once led us onto a dirt track in the middle of a field of cabbages, with a rusting shed nearby and announced, You have reached your destination. John (and Rory) are extremely reliable on the time and place of a meeting. If they say they will be, let us say at 98 Clontarf Road, Dublin on 26 August at 3 pm, then they will be sliding silently into place at 2. 59 pm. The downside of this is extreme stress if they are going to be late. John is also extremely reluctant to ask for directions. He seems to regard it as a point of honour that he shouldn’t. However, here there was no alternative. We quit the cabbage field and enquired in the next village. He came back all smiles. We were in Portugal, not Spain, and it was an hour earlier than we had thought, and the hotel where we were meeting Anne Hall and her mother was just down the road, on the right.

However, I digress. Returning to the word SatNav; I don’t know whether I’m rendering it correctly; if it should be hyphenated, or spelt differently. But who cares, it’s not a ‘real’ word.

The word that is new to me (and should you be familiar with it, I bow low before your superior education) is PROROGUE. It’s apparently how Boris is going to emasculate parliament so he can get a No Deal Exit.

We were in a potting shed in Nyman’s gardens where they sell second hand books for £1 each. I spotted a book by one Adrian Room entitled Dictionary of Confusing Words and Meanings and fell on it with geeky pleasure.

Here on the first page is prorogation, along with abolition and dissolution. Abolition is the strongest and was applied to things generally held to be wrong, such as slavery and hanging. Dissolution was the taking apart of something (permanently) so a dissolution of parliament, or Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Prorogation is the discontinuing of parliamentary sittings without an actual dissolution. It is a perilous undertaking; persons who have attempted it in the past include Charles I, and Cromwell with his wonderful quote: I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, consider ye might be mistaken. They didn’t think so then and they don’t now. When Jo Swinton, latest leader of the Lib-dems and as annoying a wee gynaff as you could hope to see – we’re going to get mighty sick of the sound of her voice – says she’ll fight with everything she’s got (I don’t think we need worry – it’s not a lot!) to prevent us from leaving Europe, I wonder how she’s got the nerve to call herself a democrat.

Perhaps she thinks (another useful entry in the book) she has refuted the arguments against following the referendum’s vote. But she hasn’t of course. She has only rebutted them.

Lots of fascinating things we can consider and discuss. What do you mean, you’d rather be in parliament​?,

IS BORIS OUR MAN?

IS BORIS OUR MAN?

There is generally a honeymoon period between an incoming Prime Minister and the country, even for one who has bypassed the proper entry process (Boris, Gordon Brown, Theresa May.) They have arrived at the doors of No.10 by whatever method, and we wish them good fortune. This halcyon period does not last very long.

I find Boris interesting but quite difficult to understand. His obvious cleverness in his speech and wit is underwritten by a strategic cunning. In the recent ‘election’ he did not play to us, the country – which he would have to do to win a general election – but then he didn’t have to. He made his appeal to the Tory supporters, who were the only people voting – and this strategy paid off. I don’t understand why he plays the fool so much. We know he isn’t one; so who is he setting out to deceive?

I find myself surprisingly tolerant of Boris’s lapses from grace. He will not be brought down by irregularities in his personal life: we don’t expect anything else. (Whenever John Major dons the mantle of wise elder statesman and pontificates on some issue or other, I remind myself that this is the man who was stupid enough to have an affair with Edwina Curry, and the lack of taste displayed thereby.)

Boris has written a book on Winston Churchill and is known to be an admirer, which I find rather worrying. Churchill was wrong about absolutely everything – except for the one thing that really mattered. He was steadfast in his implacable opposition to Hitler and used his considerable powers of persuasion to steady the nerves of the British (we will fight them on the beaches; we will never surrender; etc.). For his unstinting service to our cause, and for his capacity to go on believing we would ultimately prevail, and to speak that part in his lion’s roar] we forgave him all his faults and took him for our hero. It really did seem to be a case of cometh the hour, cometh the man.

So here we stand, on our beaches, looking towards Europe. The hour has come upon us, but I am by no means certain Boris is our man. However, this a national emergency, so some sacrifices are required.

And so I wish Boris, the Prime Minister every success.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

I’ve been reading a book called Parting Shots, edited by Matthew Parris, which is a collection of valedictory reports by ambassadors leaving their final posting and therefore approaching the end of their careers and free to say whatever they liked – which they certainly did. These reports were meant to be of very restricted distribution; but they were wormed out of the shadowy system by a cunning and knowledgeable journalist under the Freedom of Information rules. The government has had the last laugh however; it has since banned the writing of these reports.

They are often very stylishly written and well constructed. Some are amusing; some are insightful, and some are horrifying in their prejudices.

I’ve always regarded the Foreign Office with deep suspicion, wondering if it pursues its own direction ignoring the government (which from its point of view must just be a temporary inconvenience) and questioning if it represents modern Britain at all.

We went to dinner once with a Foreign Office couple on their ‘at home’ assignment. Their children, aged 11 and 13, were made to sit on the stairs and come in when our hostess rang a bell and clear the table (in correct formal mode). We were not at all comfortable with this arrangement and helped the children by stacking the dishes, and talked to them about their holidays. Their parents were quite resentful of this demonstration of disapproval, and asked us to desist, saying it was part of their education. (We did not desist).

I do however recommend the book!

THE TIMES WE LIVE IN

THE TIMES WE LIVE IN

I haven’t written much about Brexit recently. There’s a limit to how often you can say something is a shambolic mess and it still remain interesting. It is one thing to suggest that our political system is in urgent need of drastic overhaul. It’s quite another to watch in embarrassed shame as our differences are played out before all the world in a display of bad behaviour and selfish indifference to the interests of the citizens of the British Isles that quite takes your breath away.

It is as if parliament was in a boat sailing down a great, uncharted river. The roar of an enormous waterfall can be heard coming ominously closer. But the sailors are paying no attention. They are too busy arguing about who should sit where in the boat.

And it’s not as if you can identify even one party as having behaved acceptably. The Tories treatment of Theresa May has been disgraceful, but she has been arrogant in her assumption that her way was best, and she has not shared her thoughts with her colleagues (or with us for that matter.) I’ve been a great advocate of the adage, Cometh the hour, cometh the man. But the hour is definitely upon us and the man has not appeared. The very fact that the Tories allow Michael Gove’s name to appear on the list of likely candidates for being the next Prime Minister shows the poverty of leaders in their ranks.

Labour refuses to cooperate over anything in the hope that it can bring about a general election from which it appears to think it might emerge victorious. I am not so sure. We are not as stupid as they seem to think.

There’s no health in the smaller parties either. Even I become irritated with the SNP who seem to forget that they are a British party as well as a Scottish one.

As for the DUP, I’d better not start on them. They are never going to agree on anything. I amuse myself by imagining that we offer Ulster back to Ireland as a present. I’m sure the Irish would be very cooperative with us thereafter.

We’re going to have to march. I don’t see that anything will ever be resolved otherwise. And Parliament had better start paying attention, for that’s the road to revolution.

FAIR SPEECH AND FOUL

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FAIR SPEECH AND FOUL

In the sorry mess that is Brexit, I’ve seldom thought anything else apart from shaking my head in disbelief at people’s (everybody’s practically) bad behaviour and stirrings of alarm (faint as yet) at the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal.

On the day that Parliament voted so decisively against Mrs May’s proposal, I was interested in comparing the style of the two closing speeches – Michael Gove for the government, and Tom Watson (Labour) for the opposition. Both were very good speeches but they were utterly different in style.

Dealing first with Gove, I was quite amazed that he could deliver so effective a speech. I had him down as what in Scotland would be called a ‘nyaff’ – generally ‘a wee nyaff’ – which loosely translated means an annoying, useless, worthless person. Someone who has irritated you but you’re not going to take any action against him because he’s ‘just a wee nyaff’. Gove’s speech was like an attack by a wasp – a series of fast action taunts against Corbyn which were designed to annoy him and damage his reputation. He did get annoyed but there was no external acknowledgement of this. He listened without comment to the end.

Watson was altogether a more dangerous opponent. He spoke calmly and quietly and he began in praise of Theresa May. He said he accepted that she acted in what she believed to be the country’s best interests in all her decision making and arguments; that she had put a great deal of her strength and energy into securing a vote in our favour. His brief account of things painted a picture of a fine servant of the country and he in common with many others admired her energy and commitment she brought to every task she undertook. At this point the camera briefly scanned Theresa May’s face; she looked as if she was about to cry, so that I said, ‘Don’t cry, Theresa, don’t cry.’ She didn’t cry and he went on to describe how the country was sympathetic to her. He himself had sympathy with her, listing some of her difficulties. Then in the same calm voice he said that however good her intentions, she had failed. She had not succeeded in building a consensus on anything; she was inflexible; she had decided the course of action she was recommending was the correct one and although he did not say so it was clear that he thought the rabid right wing of the Tory party were dominating the actions being approved. She had failed and she alone was to blame for this state of affairs.

At this point one had to pause and think about what was being said.

I myself (never a Tory sympathiser) have some sympathy for Mrs May. But Watson’s speech with its generous acknowledgement of the Prime Minister’s strength and drive; her capacity to hold to her position no matter who was the challenger made you realise that some of Mrs May’s finest qualities are also a weakness and make her unable to take any view or plan apart from her own seriously.

I could dismiss Gove’s remarks as mere propaganda and malicious spin because they were – not outright lies, but details from his history which could be mendaciously spun. The history of the English in Ireland is capable of different interpretations, and to have sympathy for the cause of a united Ireland does not make one a terrorist sympathiser any more than to believe the time has come for an alteration in the government of our component nations makes one any less British. Nor does a desire to terminate the monarchy mean one cannot be a patriot, or that to sympathise with the difficulties of the Palestinians means one is anti Jewish. These are differences of opinion and there should be room for them all in a democratic country.

But with Watson’s remarks you felt that every word was true; and that he had examined her strengths and weaknesses with shrewdness, insight, wisdom and tolerance and was kind in his remarks and fair in his judgement.

He made me reflect that Theresa May on finding herself still Prime Minister but with a reduced majority just carried on as if everything was quite normal. Whereas we are having the greatest constitutional crisis since the Abdication, she has attempted the impossible, and tried to ‘fix’ the differences within her own party, scrabble up a few loose ends in other parties and win a majority in favour of her preferred solution.

She failed to recognise that the crisis demanded that she set up a cross party group, comprising MPs of all parties and other interested parties (Farage to be invited also). It would have had to be headed up by a Leave person. Also there would have to be whoever available to the government was recognised as an ace negotiator. (Theresa May certainly doesn’t seem to be one of those.) She and the cabinet should have carried on running the country and this special group should have been negotiating with Europe.

It’s probably too late for this approach now. Goodness knows what the outcome will be.

Tom Watson gave a good speech. He shone light in a dark corner.