Irish nationalism and unionism have paralysed Westminster

Parnell never reduced Commons to sorry state Tory diehards have dragged it into

 Behind all the passion, principle and political conflict that has brought the UK to its current impasse, there lies some crude political calculations about how the Brexit issue can best be used for political advantage. Photograph: Getty Images

Behind all the passion, principle and political conflict that has brought the UK to its current impasse, there lies some crude political calculations about how the Brexit issue can best be used for political advantage. Photograph: Getty Images

Probably the most revered leader in modern British history summed up one of the great political controversies of his era in the following terms.

“It divided Great Britain; it excited the United States; the nations of Europe followed the controversy with rapt attention. Foreign politics, social politics, defence and parliamentary procedure – all were continuously involved. Above all, it became the main process by which parties gained or lost the majorities indispensable to their power.”

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