It's been both fascinating and exciting to observe the political shenanigans that have been going on over the past few months as the March 2019 Brexit deadline approaches.
The process has also been excrutiatingly painful as we have seen a Government without a clear majority having an outer-body experience in its attempts to work with diametrically-opposed views, failing to get support for an unacceptable deal in the so-called "Meaningful Vote" and attempting to work with minority parties/members of other parties to obtain a mandate for some next steps, whatever those might be.
The process has been protracted further by the frustrating efforts of an ineffective official opposition which has shocking systemic anti-Semitism at its core, has no coherent alternative Brexit plan and appears to be on the verge of fragmentation.
Unsurprisingly, the issue that needs to be fettled to get Brexit across the line focuses on the island of Ireland and how to prevent a hard border either between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland or in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. So far, negotiations have mainly contemplated one or the other, so it is hardly surprising we ended up with the massive government defeat when the initial deal was put before Parliament the other week.
In the absence of an agreed way forward, the flow of bad news from businesses continues to increase as major companies such as Unilever, Dyson, Sony, Airbus, Easyjet, Barclays and now Nissan announce their intention to move head offices or operations overseas, or to redirect future investment from the UK to other countries.
I think most people agree that the Brexit process has been somewhat chaotic and a bit of a shambles. This chaos continues as the deadline approaches and as the blame game between the EU and UK raises its head from time to time, with accusations being cited by UK parliamentarians of intransigence on the part of the EU for not being prepared to reopen negotiations in respect of the backstop; and by EU officials of the UK for wanting to unpick the bones of a deal that has already been negotiated.
They say that a week is a long time in politics, so it is hardly surpising that most people appear to have forgotten the efforts to renegotiate the UK's relationship with the EU that took place between 2014 and early 2016. Those negotiations sought to address many of the UK's concerns on key topics such as sovereignty, economic governance, immigration and the reach of EU laws. Whilst some favourable changes were secured through the 2014-2016 negotiations, none was considered to be fundamental.
There is therefore an argument to be made that had the EU been more flexible and accommodating in its negotiations with the UK prior to the Brexit Referendum, the outcome of the Referendum itself may have been fundamentally different from what actually transpired.
In my view, therefore, the EU needs to take responsibility for its part in influencing the outcome of the Brexit Referendum and not to repeat its mistakes of the past over the coming weeks. Similarly, UK politicians need to stop showboating with party politics and to get us a deal that will work for all concerned.
Notwithstanding what some are saying is intransigence on the part of the EU, there appear to be some green shoots of optimism for a deal as February gets underway such as the recent comments from Angela Merkel regarding adopting a "creative aproach" to the Irish border.
Such a creative approach would inevitably involve a combination of changing processes - in particular those surrounding customs and immigration - and deploying innovative technologies. However, those processes and supporting technologies will take time to develop and deploy, so it is inevitable that a transitional period will be required. It therefore follows that any workable deal for Brexit will require some form of backstop-like arrangement to be in place but for a finite (and acceptable) period of time.
Time is running out, but I am optimistic that common sense will prevail and we will get a deal in place so that the March timetable may be achieved.
In the meantime, I have been developing my own contingency plans by researching and sampling a number of New World wines.
The views expressed in this blog item are the personal views of the author.