Tonight’s NHS clap on our street was the loudest yet! Accompanying the obligatory clapping and clattering of pans were fireworks and music. Although Dominic Raab’s instruction, just a few hours before, was for a further three weeks of lockdown, our neighbours were in rumbustious mood. At a distance, we discussed with them just how many times we had performed this weekly ritual: three, four or five? Who knows: the days have become indistinguishable.
And what a change from the toxicity of Brexit. Pre-31 January 2020 (and every other imaginary date set by this Government), our Whatsapp memes were all anti-Brexit; we were at each other’s throats. But these last few weeks our Whatsapps contain hilarious videos of people – often older people – ridiculing their lives in lockdown. Society has become so much nicer, more collegiate.
At work, with our stock-in-trade being disputes, our lawyers report that conversations with their opponents are now, believe it or not, pleasant. Cases are settling quickly, as egos have been despatched with. We are all in it together, to a greater or lesser degree.
And then Brexit ruined the day by rearing its ugly head again. With good reason, the EU have hinted that they may need to extend the transition period because, frankly, there are more pressing issues to contend with, like a pandemic which has triggered a depression. The response from Downing Street: non! Given that the officials cannot meet in person, and remembering that even Michelle Barnier contracted Covid, our Government’s response is undiplomatic, un-British, unkind.
We are a courteous nation of people who apologise to someone who has accidentally bumped into us. Few sane Brits would hold it against Boris if in these wild times the transition period was extended, regardless of your Brexit views.
Covid has brought the British people together, because we are grown-ups: we know that regardless of whether we are Brexiteers or remainers what is important is that we get along, helping each other out. Disappointingly, this Up Yours Delors moment from our Government portends future isolationism, and the worst of all Brexit deals. This, at a time when we need international cooperation, as the United Nations Secretary General implores, is not in the British national interest. The EU won’t forget this, nor should they. We should hang our heads in shame.