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  • Lawrence Bailey

A day in the week

Like Arthur Dent in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, I’ve never really managed to get the hang of Thursdays.

“I hate ‘em”, my Uncle Reg would say with solemn authority. “They were invented by God just to make the week longer”.

You tended to listen to Uncle Reg, even when in later life he also insisted the pigeons in Castle Gardens were fitted with listening devices.

The corollary to this is that when the editor said, “We’re shifting your column to Thursdays”, without so much as a kiss my contract, my little world shifted on its fragile axis.

Conjecture has it that it was a Thursday in 2013 when David Cameron informed his inner circle of a cunning plan to hold a referendum on EU membership. The logic, according to recently divulged sources, was influenced by a couple of factors.

First was that anti-Brussels sentiment – and Ukip support - was very much on the rise. Greece was in deep economic turmoil with the EU (and Euro) largely perceived as the problem rather than the solution.

The second was a guess that coalition government in the UK was likely to become a long-term arrangement – meaning that he could blame the Lib Dems, whatever the future outcome.

These Brexit prequel tales seem to be gaining traction with a spoon-fed media that is finally combining questions of “What happens next?” with “How the hell did we get here, anyway?”.

Even so, whilst mainstream politics seems to have abandoned all its previously accepted norms, we’re still unwisely fixated on the 'character' of our leaders rather than the substance of what comes out of their mouths.

Adding to this lack of realistic scrutiny are commentators who talk about ‘historical’ events but who clearly have little grasp of history or related perspective.

The size of the Commons majority that voted down Theresa May’s ill-fated Brexit deal was staggering in modern parliamentary terms. That was bad enough. What aggravates matters for so many MPs though is that she went into the chamber knowing the likely result.

In any other set of circumstances, a prime minister so badly damaged would have appeared later that night in Downing Street to announce their resignation.

Instead, she attempted an impersonation of an insurance company that offers you a loyalty discount just after being caught trying to rip you off on annual premiums.

Sadly, the response from across the Commons floor was contrived, hackneyed and as badly out of touch as anything to come from government front benches. It proved to me, as I’m sure that it did to many others, that the two main parties remain as factionalised as each other over EU membership.

I accept that Theresa May was dealt a bad hand on becoming PM but her strategy since gaining office has often felt as risky as accepting a lift from the Duke of Edinburgh.

Politics is always going to be about getting and keeping power. You can be assured whenever what’s best for the ruling party coincides with what’s best for the nation that the result has come about purely by accident.

It’s interesting that no-one talks about soft and hard Brexit anymore. What they are talking about however is the possibility that it may yet all come down to an event of national proportions that usually happens on a Thursday.

I’m sure Uncle Reg would have something to say about that.

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