The Yorkshire Post says: A nation ill at ease as 2019 dawns '“ why tone of Brexit debate must alter

EVEN though New Year's Day is traditionally a time for a fresh start, and renewed ambition, the ebullience of the more optimistic is offset by the caution of those who are more uncertain about their prospects in 2019.

Parliament is emblematic of the national divide over Brexit.

This divergence of opinion is, of course, symptomatic of the Brexit debate – and the political impasse that exists over the UK’s departure from the European Union on March 29.

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Not only is the Westminster stalemate compromising the wider economy, but the Government has become so bogged down by Brexit that key decisions on the future of public services, or Yorkshire devolution closer to home, are effectively on hold. Either way, the country cannot continue to operate in a vacuum and The Yorkshire Post repeats its call for Theresa May to focus exclusively on Brexit while giving a senior colleague responsibility for the domestic policy agenda.

As Mrs May found to her cost when she called an ill-advised election in 2017 in order to secure a Brexit mandate, the campaign became dominated by the future of public services and cost of living agenda. This has not changed. For, while the Prime Minister continues to enjoy the nation’s respect for her resilience, this residue of goodwill will ebb away if Brexit battles do have an adverse impact on day-to-day services.

And there is another issue at stake. How can our leaders implore people to be more tolerant of others when the debate on Brexit – and other issues – has been allowed to become so toxic because of the prevailing coarseness?

As such, the recent interventions by the Queen, Archbishop of York and now Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, should be heeded. Debate and dialogue needs to become more constructive, and less destructive, in 2019 if Britain is to unite and move forward nationally and internationally with confidence and purpose.