Two issues have dominated the news agenda since my last Monday muse.
The icy blast from the Beast from the East and the Prime Minister’s speech in London on the frosty relations and where now for the U.K. and EU.
As the hail, sleet and snow sweeping these Isles came to us via our European neighbours, perhaps the week could be summed up as seven days of Brrrrrrrexit.
But every big freeze brings a thaw. Which is true for the weather and could be true for Brexit too.
At the Mansion House on Friday, Theresa May resembled each of us who has ventured out recently. Trying to navigate a slippery path in the face of perils either side. Hoping that determination and grit would see her safely through before the next storm erupted all around. Praying that careful navigation and sure footing would suffice and that others stumbling along the same path wouldn’t knock her down.
And, to stretch this metaphor to breaking point, hoping that the ice would melt and frosty relations could thaw to allow a safer route to be navigated.
And so to the content of the Prime Minister’s actual words. The reaction has been telling. For the most part, Leavers and Remainers reacted well. Neither side are 100% happy. But both heard enough to be able, at least for now, to get behind the PM.
The reason was that the speech was pragmatic, calm, reasoned and at times stated the blinding, bleeding obvious.
It was also realistic. Things won’t be the same. They can’t be. We are leaving the EU. But, in the long term, the consequences of what Brexit means for our daily lives and the impact on our economy will be up to us. They will depend on the decisions we make as a sovereign country. If we chose to stay aligned to EU rules, regulations and standards then a free(ish) trading arrangement is possible.
If we chose to diverge then we know the consequences could be less access in those areas where we decide to do thing differently. But it will be up to us.
The PM also spoke of the opportunities ahead, noticeably for our fishing communities. Her message was welcome and clear: we leave the EU, we leave the Common Fisheries Policy and we can then get on with giving out boats fairer shares of the fish in our waters. An end to the EU telling us how much, or indeed how little, we can have of our own natural resource. Fishing is coming home. For legal, practical and political reasons, we must see this through.
The speech marked what I hope will be a watershed. A point where we can move on from posturing to practicalities. We all have too much to lose to get this wrong.
By no means is this the end of the process. There will be many twists and turns along the way. Cherries will continue to be picked. By the U.K. and the EU. But there is a glimmer of hope peeking through the gloom. But to succeed, all sides and all participants need to abandon any notion of winners and losers. The outcome will not be perfect for anyone. The Irish issue needs calm and mature negotiation as does the devolution of powers within the U.K. but both can be resolved if there is a will to find solutions. And that, as I have said, needs a new mood to replace old attitudes and calm resolve to replace petty squabbles.
So a thaw is coming. Let’s hope that we can all slosh through the slush together without too many slips along the way.
So whilst we blether about the weather I really think we all need to get a grip. Literally and metaphorically.
These days we always rush to find fault and apportion blame when anything disrupts our daily lives.
Sure, this was the first time that a Red Alert for Snow had been issued. But my recollection is that the bad weather of 2010 was worse. In which case a red alert was a bit of a red herring. It was atrocious, but it was not the worse we’ve ever had. Yes, it caused severe disruption and threatened life and limb. Yes, we should do all we can to prepare and listen to advice about when to travel.
But we should also take more responsibility for our own actions. We should, as I’ve written here before, do more as good citizens and clear our paths and pavements. We should accept that if we venture out then we accept the consequences. Roads might be blocked. Trains and busses might not run. And if we want to ensure that they always can, then we have to be prepared to pay the price. More gritters, more snowploughs and more snow-busting trains costs money. A lot of money. For equipment which may lie idle more often than not.
And one more thing. To those who made sure they had adequate supplies of food, well done. To those who panic bought and emptied the supermarket shelves: Shame on you. I hope you bought too much and wasted your money.
Finally this week, a blast at the idiots who abused the England rugby coach, Eddie Jones in Manchester last week. He was travelling back from Scotland after the Calcutta Cup Match.
He was met by a small band of numpties and the vitriolic, racist and xenophobic bile poring from their lips turned my stomach.
They were referred to on social media as Scottish rugby fans.
They were certainly Scottish. But they are not rugby fans.
They are just stupid, bigoted wee men not fit to speak for Scotland, never mind the rugby family. They represent the worst of any nation. They are a tiny minority but they shame us all. This was not just mere drunken banter, but bigoted bullying.
I hope they are named and shamed.
So sorry, Eddie. They do not speak for Scotland. You are welcome back anytime.