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Laura Kuenssberg's talkathon must end soon - and we might not get what we want on Brexit

PUBLISHED: 16:47 29 January 2019

Laura Kuenssberg Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Laura Kuenssberg Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Archant

James Marston says Brexit has to be sorted and we might have to accept that none of us will be happy

I drove through Parliament Square in London on Monday.

I was in our nation’s capital for a day out – an escape from the routine and a spot of luncheon.

As I drove past the headquarters of our legislative assemblies – the mother of parliaments – I was encouraged by flag waving Brexiteers and flag waving remainers to sound my horn in support of their cause.

I found myself, to be honest, sympathising with both.

This week as crunch votes and cliff-edge meetings and summits and whatever else continue to fuel Laura Kuenssberg’s opinions of everyone else’s opinions on it all – I think she deserves a medal for her unremitting talkathon – I have to admit I’ve rather lost interest, if not quite total faith in our politicians.

To my mind, Mrs May – and I’m sure I’m not alone in my deep sympathy for her – has done her level best to please everyone in a situation in which no one is going to be pleased. She has struck a deal which sort of satisfies the referendum and bears in mind the 48 per cent who wanted to stay. If only we actually knew what we wanted it all might have been a little easier – but there it is.

Nonetheless, I studied economics for my first degree so I think it’s infinitely better in the long run to leave the EU now and to remain won’t solve the fact that Britain has never been a keen European partner, despite 40 years of ever closer union.

The truth is, and the arc of British history – if only someone would actually read it – tells us that Britain is different, always has been and always will be from continental Europe, certainly in terms of global trade.

The Second World War, for France, Germany and others, was a moment that so damaged national pride and the national psyche that union was the only option left to restore French pride and stifle German national interest. For Britain, of course, the war was our finest hour in which we helped liberate the continent from an overarching tyrannical ideology which included, depending on how you look at it, ever closer union.

Britain has never felt comfortable with a dominant power in Europe. Britain tends to believe in liberty far more than it does equality. Britain is an island with an outward and inward looking island mentality. The list goes on. Britain has a history of varying closeness and distance with our closest neighbours – Brexit is just part of that ebb and flow.

In the long run, little of this makes any difference.

Where I take exception is not necessarily the debate on whether to stay or leave – in twenty years’ time I doubt it will matter little – but the inability of parliament to rise above its self-interested bubble and stop messing with people’s lives.

Britain is a land of compromise and stable government and that is what we elect politicians to ensure on our behalf.

A vacillating ineffective parliament, a thwarting of democracy, a catastrophic loss of trust with the electorate, economic uncertainty, fear, anger – history shows where this leads.

There’s no reason that a compromise cannot be reached over Brexit – sooner rather than later – and it is a simple one: you can’t always get what you want.

<James’Mailbag>

As ever you weren’t backward in letting me know your thoughts on my column – which last week suggested that older people might know best after all. Here’s a few of your emails.

Dear James.

Small point, all these younger people should remember that one day they will be the older drivers.

Enjoy your column. As one James to another, yes we do know best, some of the time anyway.

Jim Long

Dear James

Well done James you’ve said publically what most people are thinking. This whole situation has got completely out of hand. I wonder how many of us can honestly put their hand up and say they’ve never made a mistake while driving. No one is perfect!

Doreen Graham

Dear James

I agree with you, why is it when an older person has an accident folk shout they should not be allowed to drive but when anyone else under 60/50 to 18-year-olds has an accident no one says a word?

I passed my test in 1963 in Kent. I am nearly 81-years-old. I have never had an accident or penalties on my licence.

Mrs Joy Boldero

Thurning

Dear James

The main problem with the current UK self-report system is that a driver may not mention a health problem, perhaps because they are unaware of the problem or do not think it serious enough to affect driving skills. Driving with its associated concepts of freedom, independence and autonomy is so very important to many, to their self-image and sense of self-worth that medical issues may not be mentioned. I know a case of a person driving to the eye clinic for assessment and then being registered blind. An individual with dementia may not consider themselves as having a health problem at all, despite impairment of judgement and reasoning skills. Personally I think the way older drivers are licensed in Ireland is better. There at 70 a driver has to have a medical certificate confirming their fitness to continue driving and then the licence is renewed for three or one years as appropriate. I know that this would create more work for the currently understaffed GP service. Driving is not a right.

Catherine Lane

Dear James.

What a refreshing point of view. I read your article in today’s newspaper with great interest as I am one of the alleged hazards on the roads of Norfolk aged 76. I have invested in a dashcam because of the amount bad driving I witness. I am a volunteer driver through Voluntary Norfolk, maybe you could ask this organization how many drivers over the age of 70 they have on their books? I know they are always on the lookout for more volunteers. We give our time and our vehicles freely for the benefit of the community. I don’t hear of many incidents involving us dinosaur drivers, but, I believe that experience counts

Kindest regards

Bob Cremers

Watton

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