I heard an amazing radio interview a couple of weeks back with two voices from the past, Joe Haines and Bernard Donoughue from Harold Wilson’s kitchen cabinet.
What, they were asked, would the great fudger Wilson have done if he had been Theresa May? The answer was as clear as it was elegant – he would have reached out to Jeremy Corbyn and offered him a general election in return for his party’s support getting the Brexit deal through.
I’m not sure I really would go so far as to wish we were still ruled by Harold Wilson, but it is a pity none of the players with perhaps a handful of exceptions has demonstrated any kind of flexibility along those lines, or any others.
Theresa May appears to be the hopeless victim, not so much of her personal intransigence – which is clearly not small – but the boneheaded intransigence of the British way of government. That is how we are always governed – but normally a prime minister has a majority behind them that allows them to get away with it.
It may be in fact that our prime minister’s greatest sin has been to mangle the UK constitution. Normally, if a PM can’t get their legislation through the Commons, they have to resign and make way for one who can.
That is just the way it is supposed to work. Her defiance of the rule has led to the rest of the ridiculous situation we find ourselves in.
But we can’t let other factions off the hook either – the European Research Group of Brexiteers and climate change sceptics, the Don’t Knows round Corbym and the ardent Remainers, all of whom have been hypocritically been accusing May of running down the clock while they do precisely the same thing to avoid compromises.
Even on the verge of a no-deal Brexit, there are Remainers who believe the slim chance of a second referendum justifies their avoidance of any other kind of compromise. That is seriously irresponsible.
Meanwhile, parliament is so obsessed with their own importance that they have voted against a no-deal Brexit, forgetting perhaps that this is now largely out of their hands.
It is a bit like voting against global warming, or turkeys voting against Christmas. To really avoid it, you have to act.