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The View from the Ridge: World Cup or Brexit… both sides can’t win

Time
for a
change:
Gareth
Southgate
substitutes
Raheem Sterling
in semi-final PICTURE: REX

IF you had to give up one thing, what would it be: the hot weather, the World Cup or a functioning government?

I have to admit when I saw this question on Twitter I found it fiendishly difficult to work out my answer.

The hot weather has been blissful — the best summer I can remember.

The heartbreak of losing to Croatia confirmed how much the World Cup has brought everyone in England together and allowed them to dream. The trophy might not be coming home but football is — England finally has a team and manager to be proud of.

In the future this will always be the summer when the sun shone every day and a nice chap in a waistcoat took England to a World Cup semi-final.

So maybe having a functioning government as well is too much for us to ask in this halcyon July?

There’s a wider point here too. Some decisions are really bloody hard. There may not be a ‘correct’ answer that everyone can agree on.

If you thought choosing between the weather, the World Cup and a functioning government was hard — try working out the right Brexit deal. There has been uproar over Theresa May’s Chequers plan, which would see the UK agreeing a ‘common rulebook’ with the EU for trading in goods, in an attempt to minimise friction at borders.

The truth is, some people would have been furious whatever plan the government adopted.

Brexit has bitterly divided the country and there are very different but genuinely held answers to the question of what the best deal would look like.

It’s time for the political fudges to end. Mrs May cannot keep both sides of her party on board for ever. At some point, decisions must be made. She has lost big-name Cabinet ministers Boris Johnson and David Davis in the process. But as Gareth Southgate would surely tell her, you can always bring on a substitute.

Deal or no deal, voters have the final word on PM’s performance

Checkered result: Two ministers quit after the crunch cabinet meeting

The bigger problem for Theresa May is public perception. Let’s be honest, most people won’t read the small print of the Chequers deal — they will take their cues from how their preferred politicians and news outlets react.

If Brexit-supporting ministers and newspapers lambast the agreement as a sell-out, then voters will worry too.

A Times/YouGov poll bears this out. Labour has its first lead since March, with the party on 39 per cent compared with the Tories’ 37 per cent. Only 13 per cent of people think the government is handling Brexit well.

Yes, it’s just one poll, and it’s within the margin of error. But if one poll turns into a pattern, No.10 will be worried.

Train travellers have plenty to rail against

Delays: Rail strife

This week on Sophy Ridge On Sunday I’m travelling to Manchester and Wigan to investigate the state of the railways. It might seem counter-intuitive to make a film this week that isn’t about Brexit and the political shenanigans in Westminster — but that’s the point. While the government grapples with Brexit it isn’t doing much, well, governing.

Commuters have been suffering unacceptable delays and cancellations for too long now, causing hours of stress every day, but our politicians are too distracted to sort it out.

Two worlds collide… when Philip meets Melania

Just when we all need to calm down after the emotion of the World Cup, Donald Trump has landed in the UK. If you think ‘the Donald’ and Theresa are an unlikely match just imagine how Melania Trump and Philip May will get on. Now I would love to be a fly on the wall for the meeting of the spouses.

@SophyRidgeSky