DOES this House want to deliver Brexit? That question, put to the House of Commons by Theresa May, with a slight but knowing smile, contains the huge but unspoken truth that has been staring us in the face for some time: the cancellation of Brexit is coming closer almost by the hour.

While Remainers are probably justified in already having their champagne on ice, I challenge any to dispute that the major consequence of abandoning Brexit, reinforced by the debacle of Mrs May’s 11th-hour postponement of her Withdrawal Agreement, will be this: ‘Great’ Britain will be no more. We will be meek Britain, lame Britain, pitiful Britain. Our international standing will be diminished. Put to the Brexit test, we will not, in Churchill’s phrase, have “defended our island.” Metaphorically we will not have fought on the beaches, in the hills and on the streets. Our tame surrender will not be forgotten. Our voice will have lost authority, and however well or wisely we speak our hearers will titter behind their hands. We will have become the world’s laughing stock.

Meanwhile, back home the ballot box, which just two years ago delivered the biggest-ever popular vote for anything, against the massed forces of the Government, the Bank of England and big business, will have lost all meaning. Democracy will be dead.

YOU would think that our Brexit impasse with the EU would give those seeking independence for Scotland serious pause for thought. If it has proved impossible for us to disentangle ourselves from the EU after a mere 45 years of membership, what hope could there possibly be for Scotland to unravel itself from Britain more than three centuries after it became part through the 1707 Act of Union? None of course - if Westminster behaved towards Scotland as Brussels has towards Britain. But Westminster, though loathed by most Scots, would not behave like that. The proof is that Scotland has already been awarded considerable independence with scarcely a ripple. If Scotland voted to leave the UK there’s little doubt Westminster would co-operate to ease the process. There would be no mammoth divorce bill. Nor would there be interminable wrangling over the border – that Irish issue that has come to dominate Brexit – as good an example you could find of the tail wagging the dog. Obstructive tactics such as the EU has deployed against Britain would provoke every Scot to fury. Calamitously, the EU’s intransigence has not caused sufficient fury here. Otherwise there would be no-one waving the EU flag and demanding a “People’s Vote”. I noticed that some placard-bearing campaigners for this in Parliament Square were standing with their backs to the statue of Churchill, a symbol of our vanishing liberty. How appropriate.

AS I’ve gazed at the TV over the last, ahem, so many years, I’ve witnessed the marvellous Alison Steadman age from a young camper (Nuts in May), through the blousy Beverly (Abigail’s Party) and the frantic mother Mrs Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) to, last weekend, a granny afflicted with stroke-induced dementia. Ms Steadman’s acting might be, indeed is, magnificent – but what a pointer to one’s own mortality.