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Opinion

Paul McNamee: Boris, Barnier and a poolside solution

It is easy to look from the outside and conclude that here is a collection of people who, in all aspects, don’t know what they’re doing

Love Island is the answer.

Don’t pretend you don’t know Love Island. Everybody, like, knows it. It’s, like, everything.

In the show, the buff and the gleaming-toothed youth of Britain sit by a pool and talk in circular conversations, with rising inflection about who will couple with whom. And how. I watched it this week for the first time expecting a descent into a Bacchanalian free-for-all. But it was much more tame, more millennial than that. Less touchy-feely, more, like, chatty-chatty.

The key thing to remember is there is a cash prize for the last couple standing. It’s in their interest to find, in Brexit-speak, an accommodation. And so almost immediately the poolside collective topping up their tans are more focused on their goals than just about everybody attempting to establish the future of Britain post-March 2019. If Laura and Dani and Eyal and Alex (and the rest) can do it, why can’t Boris and David (I’ll resign, no I won’t, yes I will, no I won’t) Davis and Gove and Rees-Mogg and any others you wish to lob in.

While the Remain side don’t always do themselves favours – the doomsday scenario of food shortages and zombie apocalypse that was run up by some senior civil servants is so outlandish it is easily poo-pooed, and doesn’t help legitimate, measured future modelling – there is growing evidence of trouble ahead.

The EU car-manufacturing industry is planning for a future using fewer British-made parts due to rising costs. This, clearly, will have a massive knock-on effect for manufacturing jobs, many in pro-Brexit areas. And yet, despite this, the government remains locked in an internecine battle that has got to the point where Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, says that Donald Trump would be better placed to handle negotiations than Theresa May.

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It is easy to look from the outside and conclude that here is a collection of people who, in all aspects, don’t know what they’re doing. Beyond the Brexit battle, for instance, there’s Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, who is attempting to show that his ability to royally mess up the justice system was not a one-off. He can have a go at another!

In truth, there are some smart members of the government who could achieve things to make a demonstrable benefit to Britain.

Brexit, and the Brexit big brass band, are playing so loudly and so dominantly that they suck the oxygen out of all else

Rory Stewart, the new justice minister, has been looking at the prison system and is realising the positive benefits of education programmes for inmates – and then for society in general.

Justine Greening continues to tour Britain pushing the social mobility pledge, the hugely laudable idea that those from the poorest backgrounds should be afforded the same life chances, previously closed off to them, as the well-heeled.

But, it’s hard to hear about these things because Brexit, and the Brexit big brass band, are playing so loudly and so dominantly that they suck the oxygen out of all else. I may have missed the great ministerial plan to address the collapse of the high street and help the thousands of people facing job losses – an estimated 6,000 from House of Fraser alone being just the latest.

There is only one answer. Love Island. Get Boris and the lads into their swimming costumes, stick them by the pool with the EU delegation (I suspect David Davis may go Bermuda shorts, Barnier, more European, rather smaller trunks) and not let them out until they get to the prize at the end.

We’ll all have something to watch and the rest can get on with governing. It’s, like, the only way.

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