As far as the political world is concerned it feels like an enormous amount of change has occurred since Theresa May shook hands with Arlene Foster and slipped an IOU for £1Bn into the palm of her hand on 26th June. It took just over two weeks for the two party leaders to agree to their confidence and supply deal, but eventually they managed to do so. A total of 141 days have passed since they shook hands, one wonders if the emergence of the problems with Priti Patel, Michael Fallon, Charlie Elphicke and also Boris Johnson and Damian Green had occurred prior to the election, that the DUP would have even agreed to meet with Theresa and if so how much more they would have demanded to be associated with the Conservative Government. Beyond the problems with Theresa’s team, there are the issues facing the UK over matters such as Universal Credit which is beginning to impact parts of Sussex, along with the problems caused for the parties by the loss of their Defence Minister and the Foreign relationship issues that the behaviour of Patel and Johnson have created for our nation. The toxic aspects of these matters must be impacting on the DUP in their constituencies and across the party. One wonders if the deal will last until the end of Theresa May’s premiership. One of the incentives for the DUP to remain in the agreement at the moment is the promise of the money which has not yet arrived in the Irish economy if various news reports are accurate. However once the money has changed hands, the relationship may change impacting all of us. Unless the Government sorts itself out on many fronts, there will not be a credible Government in place on 1st April 2019 to mark our departure from the European Union and begin to pick up the pieces caused by our nations decision to leave.
The basis for our future relationship with the EU depends on the negotiations which are continuing, with large questions about the ability of David Davis and his hundreds of new colleagues to carry out this role. As of this morning we have 504 days to go, but when the weekends and Parliamentary recesses are taken into account the working days for our MPs between now and when we are due to leave is a mere 248. Every day will count and we need a coherent and credible Parliament to get us to the departure point intact and in good shape. If this was a business or a charity rather than a political institution, the approach would be very different. Although the number of working days left is not many, with 650 MPs in Parliament this represents over 161,000 working days, and that is before we take into account the myriad of assistants and civil servants in Westminster. Any other organisation would deal with those who are frankly not pulling their weight or simply there for the ride and for their own advantage, and then set out a plan to gain the most from every person on the teams. Last Monday the leaders of the main parties in the House of Commons met to discuss matters of sexual harassment and how the parties will work together to deal with this terrible issue. What would happen if instead of that meeting being a one off, the leaders of the main parties met regularly to discuss progress in the Brexit arrangements and other matters of the weeks ahead. This would seem very strange to all concerned, but we are in a strange place politically and new ways of working are needed, particularly in the light of weakness in both of the main parties. Despite years of debate the work of MPs late into the night is still how they operate. Outside of shift workers, no charities or businesses would consider allowing such a practice to happen outside of urgent pieces of work. If the working hours were changed, the need for subsidised bars and even restaurants in the House of Commons would be removed or severely reduced. The absence of alcohol in what is supposed to be a place of work would have a very positive impact on the behaviour of MPs and their colleagues in the upper House. Indeed if the Lords were brought to bear on the assessment of how to get us to Brexit in a better shape than at present, then they would more than double the numbers of workers. That is not to suggest that any decisions do not need voting on in a conventional manner, but all the votes in the world are not going to get us through Brexit as things stand.