Hiatus

Too near for a substantial rethink of Brexit, but at the same time too far away to prompt any action’. So said Guy Verhofstadt of the EU 6-month extension of the Article 50 deadline, expressing concerns that ‘it will import the Brexit mess into the European Union’. In this he refers to the EU elections, which take place on 23 May, and in which the UK will surely now play a part. Verhofstadt’s assessment of the lack of urgency appears correct. As he noted, the first decision made in the Commons after the extension was to take a recess. Meanwhile the topic of Brexit, which has dominated the headlines in recent weeks, is now as eerily absent from newspaper front pages as are passengers on the trains in the run up to the Easter weekend. Indeed, web traffic for the term has dropped to 10% of its volume in the previous month (based on Google Trends data). Has everyone given up? Not Nigel Farage it seems, whose new Brexit Party is polling above UKIP. Nor the Extinction Rebellion activists, who have locked down London this week. Perhaps the people of the UK have more polarised views, left and right, than many in politics would care to admit. Whilst the centre ground can’t seem to resolve the impasse, Farage looks to better his winning performance in the last EU elections. The outcome might serve as a proxy for a second referendum. Alternatively, the threat of a Brexit Party whitewash might be the catalyst to pull the two main parties back into earlier action. In Verhofstadt’s words, ‘the only thing that can save us now is Nigel Farage’.