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Hotting up

We began this week with the shattering revelation that the government will continue discussions with her majesty's loyal opposition with a view to finding a constructive compromise. Early signs are that they have indeed agreed on the fruit and biscuit spread for the meeting room but Corbyn is still holding out against the equal provision of still and sparkling water, maintaining that the latter is a bourgeois indulgence which sends the wrong message to voters. Sadly no further signs of meaningful progress on that front have been evident since Monday.

As we look forward to what ironically looks likely to be the most engaging European parliamentary election ever in the UK, the runners and riders have been bending over backwards to get their message out. This is of course with the exception of the Conservatives, who are struggling to find an appealing way of saying, "obviously there's not going to be a European election because we have everything absolutely under control and there'll be an agreement any day now, but just in case those bolshy reds aren't reasonable, please do vote for us to not represent you in Brussels, our candidates, who absolutely will not be necessary, really are a fantastic bunch."

What's in a name?

A leave campaign with a monotonously straightforward but compelling message which is surging beyond the traditional parameters of political campaign popularity. A loose, contradictory smattering of remain groups and strategic approaches leading to a consistent and newsworthy underperformance. Some cynics may suggest that the radical success of the Brexit party's campaign launch as compared with the limp murmurings of Change UK / The Independent Group / Remain alliance / The Heidi Allen Experience, is an example of history repeating itself as farce. These cynics aren't engaging fully with reality - this time the void between the relative competence of the leave and remain / soft Brexit campaigns is much, much bigger.

The Brexit party has been slick and effective, despite its leader having to quit only in March due to an Islamaphobic tweet, despite nominating a former revolutionary communist and a "straight pride" advocate, despite raising a suspiciously large amount of money from unknown sources, despite having a logo that looks like an interstitial from a daytime house-hunting programme. Despite everything one might lob at the Brexit party by way of criticism, they have a formula, honed in 2016 and refined to textbook efficiency since then, and a set of opponents that it seems couldn't recite the Itsy Bitsy Spider without losing the audience's focus altogether and then having a public spat about whether the spider's journey is a celebration of perseverance or a lament of mortal futility.

The Brexit party has surged to the lead while all other parties are creeping and stalling.

Have you tried turning it on and off again?

We also heard this week that the 1922 committee are discussing whether to change the party rules in order to subject May to another confidence vote and usher in a new leader. It turns out a 12-month extension really is too long for some backbench Tories. Under normal circumstances one would think the Conservatives would be incapable of even countenancing the thought of undoing a custom just to meet a short-term clamour for radical change. But normal circumstances these are not.

The would-be challengers have all the while been positioning themselves with all the subtlety of a toddler stalking a chocolate fountain. But who can blame them? Who wouldn't want the opportunity to preside over Brexit and spend a day welcoming president Trump as a noble foreign dignitary?

Sobering influences

The moving funeral of Lyra McKee on Wednesday came as a horrific reminder of the importance of protecting the Good Friday agreement and valuing peaceful dialogue between opposing identity groups. Sadly, even though the murder of a 29-year-old journalist may have brought communities together and made an impact that could sustain a new cultural mood in Northern Ireland, the ripple effects in London and the UK more broadly are not evident. Remainers are still implicitly painted as traitors to democracy and their country, Leavers as working class victims led by privileged bigots and idealogues.

With a contentious election campaign about to run full steam and with identity politics being the nature of the game being played out, there are few reasons to be cheerful just yet. Perhaps Greta Thunberg will get bored, having fixed climate change and set her mind on tackling ideological tribalism.

More, more, more!

Andrea Leadsom has laid out the House's business for the coming week and it does not include another vote on the withdrawal agreement but that could still be introduced at short notice. Expect a verbal tit-for-tat in the press between May and Corbyn's teams over the weekend and throughout next week. Also expect the European election campaigns to be all anyone (which is still almost nobody in broad population terms) is talking about.

Further ahead, before the European poll we have local elections coming up on 2 May - guaranteed to be framed as yet another Brexit poll, which is too bad if you wanted that pothole fixing. Then on 9 May we have an European Union (EU) heads of state and government meeting, which was originally planned as a post-Brexit regrouping and now will be an awkward 12 hours of "so. do anything nice over Easter?"

It's at times like this it can come as a quiet consolation that if the people gluing themselves to buildings and trains are even half right we only have a few more years of this nonsense before it's Mad Max time and we can all finally unwind under the remorseless gaze of an unfiltered sun.

Don't worry. Not long to the next bank holiday.