surinenglish

Laugh or cry?

One of the many highlights of this summer was a rare opportunity to do "touristy stuff" in London. So, just a few weeks ago there I was standing in that very chamber with its scruffy green benches that has been the scene of great drama this week.

I stood alongside other visitors, taking in the surroundings, reliving in my mind some of the more important moments of the House of Commons, both long ago and especially more recently.

The word 'Boris' scribbled in biro on a small piece of paper with a smily face and stuck behind the place on the front bench normally occupied by the prime minister, was, I was assured, just there for our amusement - presumably the joke of a member of staff, and not the seat's owner reserving his place for after the summer holidays. However that silly face, amid all that history and grandeur, is the image that stuck with me as I stepped out of the great Westminster Hall into the rain.

Now, looking at this week's rather bizarre proceedings inside that very room (which, to confirm everyone else's observation, really is smaller than it looks), I wondered whether that scribbled smily face was still there.

Brexit has so many sides to it that you don't know whether to laugh or cry. British residents on the Costa del Sol are concerned about their future rights in Spain, despite the reassurances from the Spanish authorities and the extra effort announced this week by the Foreign Office to make sure everyone is prepared.

Meanwhile though, following the "shenanigans", as one reporter put it, in London this week, it would be hard to find a better script for a comedy movie. Brexit has turned Britain into the "laughing stock" of Europe, many have repeated in recent weeks and days.

If only the plot of the comedy show were not so serious. Leaving Europe, Brexit, deal or no deal... are expressions that have become so familiar to us that their consequences seem to have mellowed along the way. If only we could be like that smily face on the scrap of paper behind the prime minister and sit back, relax and laugh at the proceedings. After all, the theatre where the story is playing out is most certainly impressive.

Meanwhile here in Spain no one is in a position to laugh at the goings-on in London. The Spanish leaders are also acting, in their case because the winners of the general election - which if we can remember that far back took place in April - have still not managed to form a new government.

Politics surely is all about different people seriously sitting down and negotiating a way forward through their differences for the good of the general public. Both our British and Spanish politicians seem to have forgotten that.