On their own the problems in Northern Ireland are quite sufficient to stretch to the limits the capacity of any government no matter how talented. Tacked on to the end of the thought processes of a second rate Minister in a government obsessed with and overwhelmed by another set of challenges they become truly horrible challenges to have to deal with.
The questions that were glaringly obvious to the people of Northern Ireland during the referendum never really got heard and understood in wider UK during the referendum campaign but gradually they are coming more and more into focus:
1. How do you have a land border between the EU and the UK without having ...... wait for it .... a land border?
2. How is it possible to have different customs duties and different practices in two neighbouring countries and an open border? Is it just possible that some people might go in for a bit of smuggling?
3. How do you control immigration over an open border?
4. Are EU citizens not to be allowed to fly to Ireland or travel freely within it?
5. Are there going to be passport checks and customs duties between Northern Ireland and the UK?
6. If there is a hard border between the two parts of Ireland what does that do to Republican sentiments in Northern Ireland? How does the existence of one help reduce community tensions and manage extremism?
7. If there is a set of unique controls between Northern Ireland and the UK what does that do for Unionist sentiments in Northern Ireland? How does that help reduce community tensions and manage the other side's extremism?
8. How do you get a united Northern Ireland power sharing Executive to function once the Republic of Ireland and the UK are no longer in the EU. How does anyone stop politicians from rising to power by speaking to fears and encouraging nationalist extremism?
9. What evidence is there that either side in Northern Ireland trusts Theresa May to be a fair and helpful power broker and that she can offer the leading parties enough of what they want to agree to work together?
10. How does the UK government negotiate an EU exit for Northern Ireland if direct rule has to be imposed without creating an atmosphere of distrust?
One of the few things that you can guarantee in politics is that surprises happen. So it may well be that all this gets sorted out really easily in an atmosphere of mature sensible negotiations between politicians who have the best interests of their constituents in mind. It is still just possible that with an intense effort by the best and most talented negotiators and diplomats that the UK has available then a political solution can quickly be found to Northern Irelands impasse. We can all only hope that this is what happens and give our backing to any serious attempts to do so.
Nevertheless just at the moment it looks to the neutral observer like May has a much bigger bigger problem on her hands in Northern Ireland than anything happening between Scotland and the UK or indeed between the UK and the EU. And the partisan observer might well be inclined to ask whether the current UK government has the talent, the insight, the time and the necessary degree of focus to solve this problem. In a few short months after Brexit a power sharing deal that has taken decades to make work appears to have fallen apart. Will the worries created by the next two years of posturing make things better or worse and is Theresa May showing any signs of properly understanding the risks?
Oh and just one other small problem has just 'emerged' from the woodwork. Apparently the government in Spain has some kind of interest in Gibraltar, not many exports to the UK and a veto on the final deal. Who would have thought it?
Apart that is from the 96% of people who voted in Gibraltar.
To remain in the EU.