It may beggar belief but the current Brexit negotiations could be a walk in the park compared with the next phase of the EU withdrawal process.
That was the message of the government’s former national security adviser at a seminar last week.
The first stage of the withdrawal process may not be over with the prime minister’s deal stymied, but if it ever gets passed, Lord Ricketts warned that the next and more detailed stage of the Brexit process will tie up government for years
He predicted that the negotiations, which will cover a range of issues including nuclear and gas supply, will go on for years and “encompass pretty much” all of Whitehall.
If the peer is correct, that spells creeping paralysis for the rest of government business.
In addition, Theresa May’s departure from No 10 is now a matter of when rather than if, heralding a wider government reshuffle. Given this, ministers can be forgiven for not wanting to stick their necks out by proposing new and potentially controversial policies.
Utility Week has been told that work at BEIS on the energy white paper, which is meant to reset policy, has gone quiet recently.
This paper is seen as pivotal for taking forward policy in areas like carbon capture and storage and cutting the cost of new nuclear power plants to meet climate change targets.
The trouble for the UK’s politicians is that global warming waits for nothing, not even Brexit.