THE instincts of Theresa May are correct over the Brexit negotiations. Britain’s future prospects could be harmed if the Government provides a running commentary, hence why the Prime Minister rebuked Boris Johnson when the Foreign Secretary said Article 50 is likely to be triggered early next year.
Unlike those of her predecessors who put spin before substance, the new Tory leader’s methodical and business-like approach is a refreshing change of style. Yet she also needs to realise that this approach will play into the hands of the significant number of people who still mistrust all politicians, and it is important the PM grasps the scale of this disillusionment as she comes to terms with the first resignation from her Government – Treasury commercial secretary Jim O’Neill – in protests at her mixed messages over Chinese investment in the Hinkley Point nuclear power station and the Northern Powerhouse.
Three months to the day after David Cameron resigned in the wake of the June 23 referendum, the country – or, quite possibly, the Cabinet – is none the wiser about the precise meaning of Mrs May’s ‘Brexit means Brexit’ mantra. Sooner or later, she will become duty-bound to provide her party, and the country at large, with some clarity about her own convictions, not least so businesses can prepare for Britain’s exit from the EU with confidence.
Unless she does so, the new PM will look weak in comparison to prominent Eurosceptics like the Barnsley-born industrialist, philanthropist and donor Paul Sykes who defected to Ukip in the early 1990s as John Major’s government self-destructed over the Maastricht Treaty.
As such, it is significant that Mr Sykes has now signalled a desire to follow other Ukip supporters back into the Tory fold. However he says it will be on his terms, namely the triggering by Article 50 by Christmas, withdrawal from the single market supported by Mrs Thatcher and Britain taking back “full control” of its borders and fishing rights. Does Mrs May agree? Her response is awaited with interest, not least because it will indicate whether there could be a reconciliation of the political right just as the left is set to be thrown into fresh disarray by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s probable re-election. Politics is that convulsive at present.
Police, trust and competence
ANOTHER week and another challenge for South Yorkshire Police, this time the IT failings behind delays answering 999 and non-emergency calls at its now notorious Atlas Court call centre in Sheffield as the force turns to colleagues in neighbouring West Yorkshire for help.
Given that it is only a matter of weeks since The Yorkshire Post revealed how public confidence in West Yorkshire’s call-handling protocols had fallen significantly, this move is hardly going to reassure those requiring police assistance.
And while both forces are clearly being hindered by longstanding technical issues which should not be under-estimated, both constabularies do appear guilty of complacency – their reputations, to a large extent, depend on their ability to respond professionally to calls from crime victims or those residents seeking to report suspicious behaviour. With a report revealing how some incoming calls to Atlas Court are simply being left unanswered by these glitches, South Yorkshire’s response to this basic issue of public trust and competence will also speak volumes about its ability to rebuild its reputation following the confluence of several scandals – and all that they have entailed.
Down but not out
WHO says there is no place for cricket’s County Championship amid the crash, bang and wallop of Twenty20? Three sides were still vying for the Holy Grail as the Lord’s clock ticked past 5pm on the final day of the season before Middlesex shattered Yorkshire hopes with a Toby Roland-Jones hat-trick.
A result which also denied Somerset a long-overdue triumph as the West country cider turned bitter, it meant Yorkshire fell 61 runs short in its quest to equal the feat of Brian Close’s legendary side in the 1960s which was the last to win three successive titles.
It’s also not how Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie wanted to bow out. However, as he makes the long journey back to his native Australia, he does so with the gratitude and goodwill of all cricketing devotees. Under his leadership, he transformed the side’s fortunes and helped a number of younger players to fulfil their potential on the international stage. His will be mighty big boots to fill.