One of the skills a politician needs to try to resolve a deadlock is the capacity to sow a seed that might blossom into something altogether unimaginable — at least for those sustaining the deadlock by red-line refusals to compromise.
The suggestion from Amber Rudd, a member of Theresa May’s dangerously dysfunctional cabinet, that there is a “plausible argument” for the British public to be asked to vote again on Brexit if MPs remain at loggerheads suggests that a sow-the-seed moment has been reached.
The difficulties, very real dangers and unsettling nature of that question-cum-suggestion are obvious but that they are not worrying enough to dismiss the idea out of hand shows how deeply division runs.
Whether it is a genuine proposal or a stalking-horse idea designed to concentrate minds remains to be seen but it was welcomed as a “massive moment” by campaigners calling for a new vote.
That is one side of the coin, by far the more attractive side, but the extraordinary preparations being made by our Government for a hard Brexit point to the other, high-stakes side of the coin.
Those measures might be, but should not be, described as part of the process of breaking the deadlock.
The holiday season, and the opportunities for reflection, renewal and new ideas it offers cannot come fast enough if this crisis is to be controlled, if chaos is to be averted.