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Gale's View - 30/01/2019

January 30th 2019


Just over a week ago an elderly lady addressed the Sandringham Branch of the Women’s Institute and in keeping with the WI’s culinary traditions told the meeting that “I prefer tried and tested recipes like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view.” A wholly unremarkable and reasonable observation, of course, save for the fact that the speaker was Her Majesty the Queen and that in the current febrile climate her remarks were inevitably regarded as “a veiled reference to the bitterness over Brexit “.


I cannot see anything “veiled” about it. The sentiments expressed by Her Maj to the effect that “every generation faces fresh challenges and opportunities “and that “as we look for new answers in the modern age “we should come together to seek out common ground and never lose sight of the bigger picture” is in pretty much the same vein and tone as her Christmas message.


The sad fact is, and I write before the outcome of this week’s crucial Commons votes is known, that whichever way the cards fall there will be a great deal of shuffling and dealing still to be done before we even begin to extricate ourselves from the mess that is Brexit.


The Prime Minister has faced the impossible tasks of trying to reconcile not two but three opposing forces: Leavers and Remainers in the United Kingdom and, of course, the twenty- seven disparate States that make up the remainder of the European Union. In this task she has had her negotiating position consistently undermined by Members of the European Reform Group to the right and those who have denied acceptance of the Referendum result to the left of the Conservative Party, by an Opposition driven by a Leader obsessed with his own self rather than National interest and by others, including former Prime Ministers, who have exploited their own hotlines to the European Commission to spread confusion


She has also been served, if that is the right word, by some Cabinet Ministers who have been at best less than attentive to the enormity of the task in hand. Under these circumstances it is astonishing that a Withdrawal Agreement of any kind has been reached and put before the House of Commons.


It is not surprising, therefore, that beyond the Westminster Village there is disdain for Parliament and all its works. There is also disruption and uncertainty in business and industry that has a direct impact upon investment, employment and prosperity and out in the ‘real world’ a genuine fear for the future of the jobs that put roofs over families’ heads and food in their bellies and a concern for the future of a still great nation.


With the atmosphere in Parliament about as rank as it has been during my political lifetime and with families torn apart, siblings against siblings, husbands against wives and children against parents we do need to be reminded that there will come a time when, for better or for worse, Brexit will be behind us and we shall have to rebuild relationships and work together. That is why I believe that the Queen, who has seen more generations come and go than most, has not just a right but as Head of State a duty to tell it as she sees it and to peddle a little common sense and civility in the interests of her still United Kingdom.

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