WHAT, as a country, are our priorities?

Today we report how Home Secretary Sajid Javid – one of the contenders to replace Theresa May when she tumbles – is claiming victory by getting the council taxpayer to pay to plug the gap left in our police forces by Government cuts.

Since 2010, there has been a 30 per cent cut in real terms in police funding, and there are 44,000 fewer police staff, including 20,000 fewer police officers. This has left our police desperately stretched – embarrassingly so, in the televised case of Cleveland.

We also report how North-East headteachers have written to parents complaining that Government cuts will have left every secondary school nearly £200,000 poorer than it was four years ago, and every primary school £31,000 worse off.

Yesterday, the Local Government Association said the latest figures from central government show next year a further £1.3bn will be removed from councils’ budgets, meaning that an average of 36 per cent will have been cut from councils’ budgets since 2010.

But by April 2019, we will have spent £2bn on Brexit, with another £3bn already set aside for the next two years. According to the Institute for Government, while police numbers, experienced teachers and all kinds of council staff are being laid off, the Department for Exiting the EU has grown from 50 civil servants to 700, the Department for International Trade has created 800 new Brexit roles, Defra is employing 1,200 new people, the Home Office an extra 1,500 with the taxman expecting to take on up to 5,000 staff by March to police the borders.

And yet there is no urgency among our politicians to get Brexit sorted. In fact, they seemed to spin out this expensive agony with their ideological navel-gazing. They have to find a way of making real and immediate progress, with or without Theresa May, so the country can focus on its grassroots priorities.