Richard North, 13/08/2019  

West Yorkshire police have basically given up on burglary – although they spent some hours, with three visits to my house (in pairs) and a formal interview at the police station, when I was falsely accused by my deaf neighbour of spraying water from a hosepipe on her. I had used the hose to quieten her "hearing" dog which was insisting in waking up the street at 7.30 every morning, when she left it in her yard unattended.

As to real crime, we've had three thefts in the last couple of months – the house and car keys were stolen on a hot summer day when we left the back door open, (which necessitated changing the locks in the house and reprogramming the car locks), the shed was raided and most of the tools taken, and some youths (I was later informed) made off with one of my expensive cat deterrents, smashing it up and leaving the bits littered on a grass area on top of the road.

Yesterday, therefore, rather than being glued to the ongoing drama of Brexit, I spent most of the day installing an external security camera to cover the back entrance to our garden – the route most often taken by the thieves. A wrought iron security gate comes later in the month, which will be kept locked most of the time.

Now that the camera is up and running, I have a feed to my desktop computer and can watch the back entrance on a separate screen, while I'm in my office working in the front of the house (pictured).

And, although it may not be obvious, there is some valuable property there: Amazingly, the Yorkshire stone flags, in place for some 30 years, now fetch something like £65 each. Twice we've had gangs with pickaxes and spade, attempting to steal them. They even tried to take the stone seat on the right, which must now be worth a couple of hundred pounds. Fortunately, it was too heavy for them.

But the thing is that, for the rest of the day yesterday, I found a largely static picture, with just a few plant fronds waving in the breeze, far more interesting than anything that was happening on the Brexit front. And, I suspect, my crime prevention measure will probably be far more effective than anything the man occupying the post of prime minister has to offer.

The trouble is that so much of the Brexit agenda is completely predictable and boringly repetitive. I really don't want to know any more about the "will they, won't they" saga of the vote of no confidence, and the speculation on whether Johnson will resign if the vote goes against him (answer: no). I just wish they would get on with it and let me know when it's over.

One report that did grab my attention though, was a piece in the Guardian, claimed to be an "exclusive", which told us that Britons had "spent £4 billion stockpiling goods in case of no-deal Brexit", with research suggesting that one in five people had a food, drinks and medicine hoard worth £380.

I've forgotten when I first mentioned that it would be a good idea to invest in a personal stockpile. Initially, I mentioned it in the comments section rather than in a blogpost, which makes it quite hard to find. But Mrs EUReferendum has been buying up extra food and other essentials in a small way ever since Mrs May's Lancaster House speech in January 2017.

I suppose, by now, our accumulated stockpile (if we include medicines and the high intensity, LED lanterns that we've bought in the event of a power cut) must be worth about £380, making us one of the one-in-five.

The important thing to realise, of course, is that even canned goods have expiry dates, so people who have large stocks need to integrate them into their normal menu planning, just to make sure that the food will be usable if needed. And even dry goods, such as rice and pasta, need rotation. They are prone to insect infestation if stored for prolonged periods, especially if the atmosphere is slightly damp.

Something we don't have to worry about, though, is what to do with the luxury cars in the driveway. But some people apparently have that problem, as they have been buying these vehicles ahead of the Brexit deadline in order to avoid tariffs that might be introduced. More than 3,800 luxury cars were imported in the past year, a 16 percent increase on the previous 12 months, according to the law firm Boodle Hatfield.

"A no-deal Brexit could mean luxury car imports become 32 percent more expensive overnight", Fred Clark of Boodle Hatfield tells the Guardian. "There is a possibility that moving cars into and out of the UK will become more difficult if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. More individuals are now taking that risk seriously and bringing vehicles into the UK from the EU".

Mind you, I have been stocking up on imported construction kits, some of which might be rather hard to find after Brexit. At least if the lights go out and the computers go down, with my high intensity lanterns, I won't be short of anything to do.

Even at the moment, though, it is hard to concentrate on Brexit, and one is even temporarily distracted by a Times headline which is telling us that BBC staff are picking up 20 percent pay rises while the over-75s are lose their free licences. In four years' time, that'll be me. Come the revolution, they'll be the first for the tumbrels.

Nevertheless, I'm almost forced to pay attention to the Telegraph announcing that the man occupying the post of prime minister "has [the] public's support to shut down Parliament to get Brexit over [the] line".

This is an "exclusive" ComRes survey which finds that 54 percent of British adults think parliament should be prorogued to prevent MPs stopping a no-deal Brexit. The poll is thus taken to suggest that Johnson is more in tune with the public's views on Brexit than MPs, following his promise to deliver Brexit by 31 October "do or die".

This compares with those who disagree, coming in at 46 percent (with the "don't knows" excluded), which the paper interprets as demonstrating support for Johnson. If "don't knows" are included, though, the figures are actually 44 percent for suspension, 37 against, with 19 percent "don't know". See Table 83.

On the other hand, though, considering that a third of Labour voters and a quarter of Lib-Dems go for this proposition, this may not be support, per se, so much as a reflection of how bored people are with Brexit, to the extent that they just want it over and done with – at any price.

But there is also another element, illustrated by the response to a question on whether parliament is more in tune than Johnson with the British public. Only 38 percent agreed, amounting to 21 percent of Tories and just half of Labour voters.

On top of that, 88 percent believed that parliament was out of touch with the public, while 89 percent believed most MPs were ignoring the wishes of voters to pursue their own agenda on Brexit.

In effect, we are seeing a widespread disillusionment with parliament, of which Johnson is the primary beneficiary. And that is hardly surprising. The conduct of the Commons since the referendum has seriously diminished the authority and popularity of the institution, to the extent that it no longer holds the respect or the support of the electorate.

With that, we seem to be getting indications that a number of Tory rebels are privately admitted that their attempts to overturn the referendum result have failed. One is reported to have said: "I have to admit it. It's over. I don't want to be part of it all".

Additionally, a group of independent and Labour MPs are also saying that they are unlikely to back a confidence vote against Johnson, for fear of putting Corbyn in Downing Street. A senior Labour MP is also said to have claimed that "at least 10" of their colleagues would also vote with the government.

This somewhat changes the calculus, indicating that Johnson could go through to 31 October with his current majority of one, taking us out of the EU without a deal and without having gone for a general election.

Ironically, this is possibly the worst possible outcome for Johnson. He needs to go to the country before the adverse effects of a no-deal become apparent, and losing a vote of no confidence is the best chance he has of doing this. The very last thing the man wants is to be stuck in office with his slender majority while the economy starts to crumble around him.

It is too much to expect that the opposition parties see a vote of no confidence as a trap, especially as Labour MPs are said to have been told to cancel September travel plans in anticipation of Corbyn tabling a no confidence vote.

But the very fact that the opposition parties are unable to unite delivers the very outcome that should be their objective. Given that no-deal is effectively unstoppable, their best bet is to keep Johnson in office under the current conditions, knowing that he will never last until the next election.

One way or the other, though, there is that feeling abroad that we are at the end of our collective tethers. Even the perils of a no-deal are preferable to the purgatory of uncertainty. Let Johnson do the deed, seems to be the sentiment – and let him suffer the consequences.

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