Friday, 4th December, 2020

[Day 263]

Today was the kind of day for which the adjective ‘raw’ was invented. Meg and I had a rather uncomfortable walk to pick up our newspapers and thereafter, we went to the park and shivered whilst drinking our coffee. We then had a really uncomfortable walk back home with our fingers as cold as ice – I suppose having had such a mild autumn has made us, in a very old-fashioned word ‘nesh’ (OED definition:’weak and delicate, feeble’) but it does also have a rather pejorative overtone. Still, it was nice to get home and shortly afterwards I needed to go out in the car to the physiotherapists in our local health centre to whom I had been referred for an episode of ‘trigger finger’ in my left hand. I was given a range of strength and other exercises to perform and will be seen again in about six weeks time to assess my progress (or lack of it). After I got home, I cooked a special risotto (which our domestic helped to to consume). Then we made an interesting excursion around our garden to find suitable kinds of leaves and holly berries from which our domestic help can utilise her magic to create some nice autumnal displays. In the late afternoon and early evening, we engaged in some video-calls with some of our Hampshire friends. In the first of these we used Zoom but I always find this a bit difficult to get going and end up with a meeting in which I am the only person present until others are invited to join me. The ‘Zoom‘ link was pretty ropy with a lot of internet drop out- we weren’t quite sure whether this as due to the technology itself or the fact that is was an early Friday evening and we might be having bandwidth problems. The second call to a friend using FaceTime was much more successful but of course you both have to have Apple technology to communicate across this link.

The news concerning the EU and UK trade talks is not at all encouraging: it seems that some kind of stalemate seems to have been reached and the talks have been put ‘on hold’ for the time being. Saturday (i.e. tomorrow) will not be used for any more negotiations but rather for a briefing of principle (political masters). In a joint statement, Lord Frost and Mr Barnier said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson would ‘discuss the state of play’ on Saturday afternoon. The deadlock could be interpreted in two particular ways. The pessimistic way of viewing this deadlock is that there no meeting of minds and therefore in the absence of an agreement, the deadlock must point towards a ‘no deal’ outcome. However, there is another way of viewing the situation which is this. If the negotiators on either side have gone absolutely as far as they can go without breaking their mandates, then the ultimate ‘bridging of the gap’ can only take place as a result of direct political decision making. In other words, if Boris Johnson is determined to have a deal, then he can help to create one – but if is determined to leave with no deal, then all of the negotiations will have been in vain. It could be said that Boris Johnson is really on the horns of the most acute dilemma. If he ere to choose ‘no deal’ then the economic consequences will be dire for all kinds of industries in the UK.The compounding effects of COVID-19 and a ‘no deal’ Brexit will plunge the country into a massive economic crisis. On the other hand, whatever kind of minimal deal he manages to live with will be classified by the ardent Brexiteers and the right wing of the Tory Party as a complete betrayal and Boris Johnson will soon be ‘toast’ and will be dumped by the Tory Party as soon as possible. Of course, in the past, Tory Prime Ministers could rely upon a supine and generally supportive right-wing press to hail any kind of deal as a ‘triumph’ and could then could claim to have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.But the press has been much less supportive of the present Conservative Government which has hardly covered itself in glory after its maladroit handling of the pandemic. Watch this space!