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Sensible approach to Brexit urgently needed

FROM the moment the referendum result was declared, disarray has been the dominant and dispiriting feature of the British government's handling of Brexit.

As it hurtles towards a series of major Brexit milestones, including a crucial EU summit this month and an October deadline for the text of a final deal, the sense of shambles has rarely felt more alarming.

Far from getting a grip with the “strong and stable” leadership she promised, Theresa May appears to be less a prime minister and more a hostage held captive by two warring sides - the remainers and the Brexiteers - of her own party.

Even by Mrs May's dismal standards, she has had a bruising week at Westminster.

In order to keep remain rebels on-side as the House of Commons voted on the EU Withdrawal Bill, she assured them that the government would table an amendment that would meet their demand for Parliament to be given a “meaningful vote” on the final Brexit deal.

That promise was enough to ensure that Mrs May and the Bill made it to the weekend, albeit by the skin of their teeth.

But when the amendment was published, it back-tracked on the deal that the remainers - who wish to avoid the worst excesses of a hard Brexit - believed they had agreed.

When that amendment goes before Parliament next week, it does so with the prime minister's authority further weakened by the betrayal; the supposed compromise has in itself left her deeply compromised.

Labour is little better. Jeremy Corbyn suffered his worst Brexit rebellion from his own MPs this week, and the party struggles to articulate its Brexit vision.

Time is getting dangerously short for a sensible Brexit deal to be negotiated, particularly one which takes into account the best interests of Northern Ireland.

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