THERESA May must have been fearing the worst when Nigel Adams rose at Prime Minister’s Questions just hours after deciding to quit as a junior minister over Brexit – and her controversial decision to enter into cross-party talks with Jeremy Corbyn.
Yet, while the Selby and Ainsty MP asked a perfectly valid question about disability access at his local station rather than the inflammatory comments of his resignation letter in which he accused the Cabinet of cooking up a deal with a ‘Marxist’, other backbench Tories were less charitable.
Incredulous, they simply wanted to know why Mrs May was ‘legitimising’ the Opposition leader when she has spent her entire premiership – including the duration of the last election – saying that Mr Corbyn is unfit to govern.
However, while they are entitled to their view, both main parties committed themselves at the last election to implementing Brexit and no majority exists at present for any of the options, including Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement or the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.
That is the reality and the regret is that it has taken so long, and for the discourse of politics to become so coarse, for Mrs May – and Mr Corbyn – to show the statesmanship and statecraft demonstrated by their predecessors at previous times of crisis.
The fact of the matter is that Britain has never been more divided, as the EU referendum result exemplified 1,000 days ago, and it will require responsible leadership by politicians on all sides to start to bridge these differences. It is what the ‘silent majority’ now expects.
Name-calling – and the use of derogatory language – will not solve anything. Such interventions only polarise matters further, even more so at a time when so much rests on the outcome of Mrs May’s belated dialogue with Labour’s leader.