I hope Theresa May has a happy Christmas

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Given that university term is over I am, inevitably, aware of the approach of Christmas (not that the work stops, just for the record). I have a strong suspicion that Theresa May might well have the same feeling. With the parliamentary recess looming and another revolt seemingly averted by her backdown on the stupid idea of making the Brexit date legally binding she must be looking forward to a few days of reduced stress. And I rather hope she gets it: my charitable spirit extends that far, and way beyond.

There is good reason for thinking she will need the respite. I believe she, and we, need to brace ourselves for the new year. This is not the moment for reviews of the year past (no doubt I will do that in due course) or even for making predictions for the year to come (which I may, or may not, do). Rather this is about simple contingency planning to survive what is going to happen.

The EU will be a lot harder to deal with in 2018 than it was in 2017. That's because the round two Brexit talks will be much harder than round one. This is unarguable

And as a matter of fact the UK has to secure a Brexit transition agreement because it has no arrangements in place for anything else. In that case since, as Philip Hammond has (unusually for him) correctly said, the UK will have to apply all EU rules during this transition however long it lasts whilst having no say on them, the Brexiteers will be going ballistic sometime soon.

Add to this the fact that the House of Lords will be empowered by the now obvious fragility of May's Common's majority and there is no doubt that in the new year May is going to be under the most enormous pressure on all sides.

If (and it's a big 'if') Labour could set out a plausible soft Brexit negotiating strategy that showed lip service to the Lisbon Treaty whilst using the rules on migration as they are actually written and the same regard on issues such as nationalisation, state aid and other such issues as most states show (i.e. limited compliance to suit their own needs) then her position would become nigh on impossible.

For the sake of the country I rather hope this impossibility develops. But I'm not going to deny her best wishes for a decent Christmas break starting this week despite that fact.