We are a nation on the verge of a Brexit breakdown. 

Liz Hamson Leader

Actually, strike that: we’re already smack bang in the middle of one. But not everyone appears to have twigged.

The politicians seem to think that in securing yet another delay, they have bought themselves valuable time and that it’s OK to head off on holiday (much to the incredulity of the European Parliament’s Guy Verhofstadt). Meanwhile, the public still can’t get their heads around why the ‘will of the people’ hasn’t been respected and said politicians haven’t yet delivered Brexit.

I can’t get my head round why they can’t get their heads around it. What’s to deliver? There was no consensus behind any of the options tabled and why would there be? Parliament is as divided as the public on the best course of action – or least worst. Brexit wasn’t the will of the people. It was the will of just over half those who voted, or a third of the electorate. Two thirds did not vote to leave.

Moreover, the primary motivation for leaving for many was and remains immigration (ask any cab driver – just don’t mention that if EU immigration is curbed, immigration from the rest of the world is likely to increase), while for politicians and the business community it is as much about ridding the country of red tape and regaining sovereignty. These are very different, some might say diametrically opposed, motivations that were never going to be reconciled.

For those who realise the nation has been gripped by an illness there is no obvious or immediate cure for, least of all Brexit, any relief felt at not crashing out of the EU last Friday was fleeting. Two of our heavyweight columnists sum up the growing sense of futility. In a tormented and powerful comment, once ardent Brexiteer Nick Leslau does a volte-face and argues that the only way to end the “unhinged debates” and “shocking management and self-serving decision-making on all sides of the house” is to revoke Article 50 and pursue “a new, more consensual way to bring this about”.

In an equally forthright piece, former Conservative Party vice-chairman Steve Norris calls for Theresa May to go. “If a developer employed a project manager who so patently failed to deliver a key project they would be replaced immediately to prevent further damage,” he argues. “How it is done is not important. That it is done and soon is vital to the future prospects and credibility of the UK.”

Finding a remedy to this wholly self-inflicted illness is also vital to the prospects of the commercial property market, which are looking pretty bleak following the latest deadline extension. Even before all hopes of a Brexit bounce were rudely dashed, I was hearing that some agents had received no bonus on the back of a dire first quarter, and you have to think there will be widespread layoffs at the big firms if investment volumes continue to plummet, as many experts now predict they will.

Something needs to happen soon to break the Brexit deadlock or ‘trick or treat’ will take on a whole new meaning this year – with nobody expecting a treat.

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