Assailed from all sides

21 April 2018, 20:43 | Updated: 21 April 2018, 20:49


Vast numbers of doddery, chuntering old geezers coalesced into one giant geriatric fist of fury that dealt the government a biff on the bonce.

It was one of the largest votes that the House of Lords has ever seen and they were there for one purpose. It was to stick up for Britain's interests or to thwart Brexit, depending on your fixed-in-concrete point of view.

The Lords voted by 348 to 225 that the government should have to consider remaining in the EU's Customs Union.

This did not go down well with Theresa May who had personally drawn a red line around that issue.

She seems to have been free with the use of red lines.

The prime Minister has drawn so many red lines on various negotiation points concerning Brexit that she stands in a swirling maelstrom of them and she might be hard pressed to find an escape.

The Lords also thwacked the government on its disinclination to guarantee the rights of EU citizens once we leave the EU.

Twice stymied in the same week.                 

But that was not the extent of the Mrs May's troubles.

There was also The Troubles.

Brussels rejected all of Britain's fudging about the border between a brexited Northern Ireland and the rest of the Emerald Isle which will remain in the EU.

European negotiators insist that there cannot be no border between the EU and the UK, but the British insist that there can be no hard border because people might start shooting each other again.

The EU say there must be border controls for tax and standards reasons and the British say that the border must not be in the Irish Sea, or on land, Sinn Fein want Northern Ireland to remain in the Customs Union and Single Market but the DUP, on whom the PM relies, want no difference in rules from the rest of the UK.

If we leave the EU completely with a hard Brexit, Sinn Fein will be upset, if Northern Ireland retains some synchronicity while the rest of the UK goes its merry way, the DUP will be upset, if there are no borders, the EU will be upset and if there are borders, the UK will be upset.

Basically, everybody that has a say wants something completely different from everybody else and it’s a bit like untangling the Christmas tree lights – you know there must be a way to straighten it all out but you can't quite fathom how.

If European setbacks for the government had ended there this week, it would have been bad enough, but there was more.

A group of ex-pats are attempting to have the entire Brexit process annulled because they have been disenfranchised.

The referendum rule that stated that those Britons living overseas for 15 or more years should not get a say deprived those people of their rights to vote.

If, after Brexit, they will be forced to relocate to these damp isles, after sunning themselves in Spain for years, they will be sore upset.

Hence the campaign to throw out the whole leaving process.

They have been reduced to second class citizens without a voice on issues that directly affect them.

That's hardly taking back control.

And if that were all that the government had to contend with, on top of the festival of apology over the Windrush scandal, it would have been plenty, but it wasn't all.

A British fishing firm has won the right to appeal the decision by Boris Johnson to award valuable licences to fish British waters near the Falkland Islands to foreign companies.

This is the same Boris Johnson who, before the referendum, exited the Leave battle bus - the one with the lie about £350m a week for the NHS - and declared to the fishermen of Lowestoft that foreign firms were stealing our fish.

Now he has stopped them stealing by giving the fish away instead.

It is an interesting solution to the problem. If that policy were rolled out, the crime numbers would fall in an instant.

It's all a bit of a muddle.

Is this the strong and stable government we were promised by the PM?

It's a good job it's not a coalition of chaos, because that would be embarrassing.