The 11 day Easter break being enjoyed by MPs might look like a long one to the public but it feels like a short one to the MPs themselves.

Their traditional two week Easter recess was cut short as another “Brexit day” deadline loomed last Friday.

Exhausted MPs were relieved to escape Westminster for the first time since the new year; their scheduled week-long break in February was also a casualty of Brexit.

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A working holiday

Political life goes on when the Commons is not sitting, but at a slower pace.

With Theresa May away on a walking holiday in Wales, the cabinet will not meet. Downing Street holds just one weekly briefing for Westminster journalists, instead of twice a day.

Contrary to tabloid myth, not every MP will be lying on a beach. Many will be working in their constituencies, while also making up for lost time with their families.

For some politicians, there is no escape from Brexit. Negotiations, between ministers and their Labour opposite numbers, aimed at finding a compromise are due to continue at the Cabinet Office at 70 Whitehall, next to Downing Street.

Working groups on security, the environment and workers’ rights have been set up. But the wheels are turning slowly and no one is expecting a dramatic breakthrough this week on the two thorniest issues – a customs union and a Final Say referendum.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will probably review progress – or the lack of it – after the Commons resumes on 23 April.

Parliament’s absence helped ministers garner some positive headlines for policies that might otherwise have been overshadowed by the Brexit crisis, such as the government’s plan to help Generation Rent by ending no-fault evictions.

Away from Brexit

Nigel Farage managed to fill the news vacuum almost single-handedly when he launched his new Brexit Party’s campaign for the European parliament elections, which will go ahead on 23 May if the Commons has not passed a Brexit agreement by then. 

Ms May’s pledge to stand down once a deal is finally approved has encouraged potential successors to burnish their leadership credentials.

Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, did a round of media interviews during a visit to Japan. Sajid Javid, the home secretary, made a highly personal speech on violent crime in which he deployed his strongest card – his back story, saying he could have ended up in a life of crime rather than in the cabinet.

Theresa May spotted in service station on way to walking holiday in Wales

The prime minister, while pretending to switch off, will doubtless be monitoring how the mice play while the cat is way.

She will also be mulling over how she can take the wind out of Mr Farage’s sails by securing a Commons majority for her Brexit deal, so the European elections can be cancelled.

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