Richard North, 25/12/2015  

This actually started it in late August as a Christmas present for Booker – in memory of his uncle, who was captain of the ship this model represents: HMS Poppy. I posted a picture in October showing limited progress but, in November discovered that the ship had undergone what appear to be unique modifications, that had to be built-in from scratch.

The picture above shows how far I've got – and it looks more than it is, as a lot of bits are dry-fitted and not yet glued into place, and there's a lot of touching-up and cleaning up to do. I can't even begin to estimate when it will be finished so this is as close as Booker gets to his present for the moment.

This rather reminds me of the old Telegoons skit where Neddy, lacking a suitable weapon, held up a bank with a colour photograph of a gun – only to be given a colour photograph of some money. Booker gets a colour photograph of a model.

As we contemplate taking the day off – the only one in the year when I take a complete break – I think we deserve some time to prepare us for the work ahead.

That is certainly going to be demanding. In many respects, the election was Christmas come early. We got our referendum and our chance to set in train the process of leaving the EU. No one then was under any illusions that it was going to be easy, but there was no reason that it should have be quite as difficult as it is turning out to be.

Here, we're having to contemplate the reality that there is more than one game in town, and the practical implications of that. We already knew it was going to be something of a problem.

About three years ago, we were getting wind of a pending take-over, when Matthew Elliott was declared "heir apparent" by a group of his supporters at a meeting called by the Campaign for and Independent Britain. And so it has come to pass with Vote Leave making a bid for lead campaigner for the "leave" proposition.

What has been perverse about the latter part of the year, therefore, is that we've spent much of our time focusing on the "enemy within" as we have on the "real" enemy – whoever that actually turns out to be.

Yet, those who want a simple life with their calls for unity are the ones who are being unrealistic. Even within Vote Leave there is no unity, and none of the key players actually agree on the way forward. There is no agreement between Vote Leave and and then there is the wild card, otherwise known as Ukip – which itself is split between the Farage and Carswell factions.

On the outside, there are other groups which have come together to form what we are calling the Leave Alliance, for which Pete has prepared a superb website under the handle Leave HQ. That, with a resurgence of campaigning blogs, and we beginning to carve out our own identity – under the horizon for the moment, which is where we need to be.

If I was able to grant ourselves a magic Christmas present, then I would perhaps consider a disappearing trick and wish all our opposition away, except that I personally never had any ambitions to lead, or even run this campaign. Rather, I was hoping that we would see a collegiate approach, where different groups could play to their own strengths, all working to a common theme.

That's where it's all come unstuck, of course. We have in the Elliott faction a group which, despite lacking the necessary knowledge and the skills, is determined to "own" the campaign, demanding conformity to an as-yet unknown game plan, and complete loyalty to their disparate group.

Despite being warned of an all-too-predictable outcome, I nevertheless spent a lot of time this year negotiating with Dominic Cummings, feeding him information, writing briefing notes and directing him to useful material.

The last time I met Cummings face-to-face, we parted on good terms, shaking hands and agreeing to continue working together. It was he – with no explanation or contact – who broke off relations, leaving an e-mail unanswered and refusing to telephone me, as he had been asked to do by a senior figure in the campaign.

Sadly, alliance-building is needed to make this campaign work. But, as they say, it takes two to tango. With no willingness to work together and no good faith, there can be no progress. And that's where we stand on Christmas day, hurling brickbats across an unbridgeable divide.

With that, it's not as happy a Christmas as I would like, and with so much unfinished business and so much to play for, it's hard to sit back and be totally relaxed. But, we have to take what we can get in this life, so I'll wish Booker - minus his model - and all my readers a very Merry Christmas, with a special word from the long-suffering Mrs EU Referendum - who gets her dining room back for the day.

We can also hope for a more productive New Year, even if I can't promise a happy one. For that, we'll have to wait until we've won the referendum – and that is not going to be in this year coming.

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Brexit - the first year - New e-book by Richard North
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