Faced with challenges that threaten the EU’s very existence, continental leaders have little patience left for Britain’s baffling theatrics
Travel does not always broaden the mind, but it can sharpen perspective. Recent weeks have taken me to Germany, France, the Netherlands and Spain. I learned much about these very different countries, but the most important takeaway was about my own. The largest conclusion I drew from recent conversations on the continent is that Europe is no longer terribly interested in these islands. How much attention are our closest neighbours paying to what is happening to the United Kingdom? Not much, in truth.
The week ahead in Britain will see the energies of its parliament expended on the latest developments in a Brexit plot that is becoming hideously complex even for those of us paid to follow it. Exactly like the week just gone then. No different to many weeks previously. Breathless news bulletins bring the latest about the drama of tight parliamentary votes along with threatened cabinet resignations and actual ones lower down the political food chain. Reporters endeavour to explain to head-scratching viewers why the cabinet is angrily divided over “time-limiting the backstop”. Theresa May thinks it a good night’s work when she survives to prevaricate another day. Jeremy Corbyn achieves the unusual feat of splitting Labour MPs three ways over a key vote on what kind of Brexit we should be having. The Westminster air grows fetid with tales of last-minute bargains and stories of betrayal. The characters alternate between insulting each other in the most vitriolic language and torturing us with rival ways to define “a meaningful vote”.