Donald MacLeod: Bedraggled and belittled, Theresa May needs more than bravado and bluster

Prime Minister Theresa May (Jack Taylor/PA Wire)

EARLIER this year Scotland was chilled to the bones and endured months of winter mayhem as the infamous Beast from the East laid waste to much of our transport network and fragile infrastructure.

The chill lasted so long that spring was almost bounced out of the way. We were then baked and scorched for weeks on end by a lawn-shrivelling, reservoir-emptying summer heatwave.

This week, not to be outdone, a normally languid autumn heralded its arrival with Storm Ali, which packed a deadly and very destructive punch. The first of many such storms, we have been warned to expect over the coming months.

But is seems that no matter how many advance warnings and portents of doom we receive about incoming gales, Baltic blizzards, torrents of rain, sheet of black ice, pea-soup fog and skin-blistering temperatures, we always panic and are never ready for their arrival. We are always lacking resources to effectively deal with the conditions. From the wrong type of leaves on the line to melting tarmac, from unploughed roads to power lines blowing down, not to mention the numerous floods that occur after an expected deluge of rain, we are almost always embarrassingly caught napping on the job, ill prepared and ill equipped.

Either that or we succumb to state-managed paranoia and shut the whole country down, just to be on the safe side…in case something really bad happens. You can never be too careful, you know.

But it’s not just climatic change and our extreme weather conditions that the UK struggles to deal with. Brexit, the political and economic equivalent super storm that threatens to engulf the whole of Europe, was on everyone’s radar more than two years ago.

Plenty of time, you would think, for the politicians to consider every proposal, every eventuality, its profound effects and economic impact.

More than enough time for them to settle their petty differences and stop their mind-numbing squabbles over free trade tariffs, borders, free movement, migration, employment law, defence and human rights.

Time to come up with an intelligent proposal that both sides of the divide could happily agree to and avoid a possible cataclysm.

And you would be totally wrong. They seem to be as far away from reaching an agreement than ever.

Especially after last week’s embarrassing entirely unnecessary belittling in Salzburg of PM Theresa May’s Chequers proposal by embittered member state leaders, led by emboldened and smug Donald Tusk, head of the European Council.

Whether you agree with the embattled May and her Chequers agreement or not, whether you are a Remainer or Brexiteer, deal or no deal, no matter, no one likes a bully and this lot behaved like a mob of them, and gave a furious PM May a doing, instead of doing all they could to reach an agreement.

They misjudged the mood and, to her credit, May told them so the next day in a sub-zero seven minute speech on returning to Number10.

But despite giving her fellow leaders the hard stare and despite the bravado and bluster of her Brexiteers, the Tories still have no Plan B, no magic fix.

The Chequers proposal was their only proposal and that now lies in pieces like a dropped jigsaw at the bottom of the Alps and as such the UK is now being led blindly into a no-man’s land by a PM, a party, a government that has lost any credibility they may have had and any right to lead anyone, let alone a group of nations who make up a supposed United Kingdom.

United not for long, I suspect, if a no-deal Brexit is foisted upon them.