By Paul Waugh
In Westminster, the coming week could well be a momentous one for Brexit. There will be fresh votes by MPs that could delay the whole project, buy Theresa May a few more days or simply underscore the fact that no one in Parliament can agree on anything.
Beyond SW1, much of the public won’t be interested in the minutiae of who voted for which amendment or who defied their party whip. They may look at events in the Commons with a mix of bemusement, exasperation or even contempt.
But even though Brexit often seems like a dialogue of the deaf, exactly how and when the UK leaves the European Union will be the biggest political event to shape our country for a generation.
And as the clock ticks down to Exit Day on 29 March, we at HuffPost UK want to take the temperature of our body politic by listening to what the public really think, away from the bubble-wrapped claustrophobia of the House of Commons and its famous green benches.
We will be travelling across the north of England, with the M62 motorway our rough guide, as our reporters and video team take the time to hear voices that don’t make easy soundbites or headlines.
Stretching from the Irish Sea in the west to the North Sea in the east, the M62 corridor has a population of 13million people living in small towns, regenerated Victorian cities and beautiful moorland.
A northerner myself, I know the region is often caricatured as the beating heart of the Leave vote, but in fact it is as varied, argumentative and vibrant as Britain itself.
Former mill towns and rural areas undeniably tilted towards Brexit, but big cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds largely wanted to Remain. And within all of them, there were different views splitting streets, families and communities.
We want to capture the often direct, sometimes messy, always brutally honest views of Scousers, Lancastrians and proud Yorkshiremen and women as the HuffPost Listens series hits the road once more.
Our two reporters, Aasma Day and Arj Singh, were born and bred on different sides of the Pennines and will be recording life in their respective home counties over the next seven days. Aasma, HuffPost UK’s north of England correspondent, is based in Preston and Arj is our deputy political editor, but both are perfectly placed to get under the skin of the Brexit debate inside and outside Westminster.
Our HuffPost Listens event last summer in Birmingham, another key area during the 2016 Brexit referendum, proved the enduring value of media organisations simply giving a voice to their readers. We are in receive mode, not transmit.
We certainly won’t ignore all the decisions in London that ultimately affect the whole country. Throughout this week we’ll be simultaneously listening to the ‘ayes’ and ‘noes’ that carry a distinctive northern accent, and not just the ‘aye’ and ‘noe’ lobbies of the House of Commons.