Christmas 2018 draws close, along with the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. After Friday it’s plain sailing all the way through to spring, when daffodils bob up like bright flags of hope around York’s city walls. The trick this year – and well into 2019, it seems – will be whether the UK can reach spring unscathed and at peace with itself.

Personally, I can never remember a time when our country has been so divided.

The most obvious reason, at least the one the media prefers to obsess upon, is Brexit. Even now, just a few months before Article 50 expires on 29 March 2019, no one can say with certainty what leaving the EU will look like. Or even whether it will take place.

One thing, however, is clear. Brexit is a word that means irreconcilable things to different people. Passions cover every possible shade of emotion, from diehard support to violent antipathy to genuine boredom. Yet if we fluff this seemingly impossible jigsaw, Britain’s post-Empire decline will speed up rapidly, our internal divisions worsen.

And it seems ordinary people are the ones expected to foot the bill in terms of poorer public services, low wages and less opportunities for their children.

I suspect many of those who wanted Brexit back in 2016 will be asking themselves difficult questions over the holiday period. Is leaving the European Union on the current terms being offered in Theresa May’s deal really what they voted for? Does it really mean ‘taking back control’ or ‘restoring sovereignty’?

Will it even make the UK economy less dependent on immigrant workers – a big factor for some Brexiters? Is it worth all this muddle and disruption?

No deal is not an option. Only fanatics or the economically suicidal would contemplate reverting to World Trade Organisation rules.

The reality, like it or loathe it, is that Brexit on the terms it was presented to the British people during and after the Referendum has utterly failed. Theresa May’s red lines and fine words are as redundant as last Christmas’s crackers.

It seems possible there may be a second referendum next year, a frightening prospect in terms of alienating and angering millions of Leave voters. If so, their concerns – inequality, accountability, left-behind communities, the questionable record of the EU – must not be ignored. In such a referendum, Remain must be linked to reforming the EU, so that banking and corporate interests do not take priority over issues of inequality and rigorous climate action.

But Brexit is only half the worry when it comes to social division in austerity Britain. For millions of our citizens, struggling to get by each month, it isn’t the main worry at all. Their concerns are for the basics of life: food, warmth, shelter, secure jobs with decent pay.

And we could mention divisions between young and old, able and disabled people, between the three million EU-born citizens who have made Britain their home in an increasingly hostile environment.

Above all, if we are to come together in 2019, we must take concrete steps to start reducing inequality. This has to mean redistributing wealth from the very rich to ordinary people, not just through an end to low pay and insecure jobs, but top class public services funded by higher taxes upon the wealthy.

When the resources of Britain are shared more fairly, we can start addressing regional inequalities. For example, total public spending in the North has fallen by £6.3 billion since 2009/10, more than any other region, while the South East and South West have seen a £3.2 billion rise, according to think-tank IPPR North.

Whether we will wake to a happy and more prosperous New Year is uncertain.

But rather than end 2018 on a sour note, I would like to quote my old Gran, who lived through two world wars and never ceased to believe people could improve themselves and their lives if they worked together. In short, that progress and behaving better are always possible when it comes to humanity. At every Christmas dinner she would raise her glass high for a toast: ‘Peace to the world!’ Amen to that.