What a strange summer it has been, both marvellous and depressing by turns. Weeks of continual sunshine and blue skies feel like the glorious, rose-tinted summers we recall from childhood. Then there has been the excitement of the England team not bombing at an early stage of the World Cup. Finally – far from marvellous – there has been the unedifying spectacle of the Conservative Party trying not to destroy itself over Brexit.

But before we go on to Brexit (and it would appear that we have to go there, whatever proponents of a second referendum say), let’s bask in our moment of footballing glory. If ever there was a time when England, and by extension our sister-nations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, need a shot of success it is now.

I for one have been appalled how quickly some of the things that made Britain a great country have been systematically dismantled since the crash of 2008. Even the architects of the crisis are now acknowledging the NHS and social care system are collapsing. I could go on listing a catalogue of self-inflicted wounds perpetrated on the British people by this Government and the minority they represent. But hey, the sun is shining.

That is why it is good to be reminded that ordinary people with exceptional skills and determination, like the members of the English squad, can achieve great things. Today, whether England will go on to the finals will be settled in a match with Croatia. However that game ends, I hope our national team show the same sense of fair play, cool-headedness, co-operation and commitment that won success against Sweden. Those, to me, are among the best aspects of what it means to be British.

How sad then as summer unfolds to witness the painful farce that is the Government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations. As I have pointed out before, York is firmly a Remain city. Brexit is being visited on the majority of us in this town, who are reluctantly accepting the referendum result out of respect for democracy.

Yet last weekend’s unsavoury “away day” at Chequers, the bodged policy fudge that resulted and the high-profile Cabinet resignations that followed have set off alarm bells among Brexiteers and Remainers alike.

Essentially Theresa May is proposing a continuation of the status quo. A Norway-style settlement where we pay billions of pounds for virtually the same relationship with Europe as currently exists. The big difference being, of course, that we no longer have a say in anything. In short, instead of the Parliamentary sovereignty the Brexiteers promised as the main advantage of their project, what ambitious politicians like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove want is to become rule-takers, not rule-makers, when it comes to the EU. That, after years of hot air, is what the Government’s vision of Brexit means.

Passing aside awkward little facts, like that Theresa May’s proposals don’t cover the crucial area of services (80 per cent of Britain’s economy) and might not be acceptable to the EU or her own MPs anyway, we are left with one amazing question. What on earth has this cabinet of millionaires been bickering about for the last two years when they collectively agreed (at least most of them did) such a bizarre plan in less than 12 hours?

Another awkward fact is that if the Brexiteers who remain in the Cabinet have accepted the May plan, then the choice they offered at the Referendum was in reality a hoax. It feels like the Conservatives and their wealthy backers have decided the job of modern government is to distract the mass of people through meaningless discussions while the seriously profitable business of keeping wages low and cutting public services goes on. Oh, and of course, making sure tax loopholes remain an open goal.

David Davis and Boris Johnson have already quit the Cabinet. Over the summer we will hear more distracting rhetoric about “betrayal” from some Brexiteers. But we have to believe that priorities in this country can improve. We need to focus on curing the diseases caused by pointless austerity: rampant inequality, low pay, the housing crisis, food banks, crumbling public services and the NHS on its knees. That would truly feel like coming home.