ALL the signs are that Britain is caving in on the three issues in the first phase of the Brexit talks. Theresa May was told she had to yield by next week to persuade the European Union summit on December 14th-15th to agree that there had been sufficient progress to begin talks on transition and a future trade framework. The prime minister has duly made big concessions on the rights of EU citizens in Britain and on the exit bill, perhaps enough to pass the test. There even seems to be some movement on the trickiest issue of all, how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, making a December deal more likely—but still not certain.
Yet behind the good new lurks a persistent and dangerous threat. The more that Mrs May yields, the more some Brexiteers argue that Britain should leave on March 29th 2019 without any deal at all. Even if she wins agreement to move to phase two of the talks, the lure of no deal will not disappear. Brexiteers hate the concessions that are being made in phase one, especially over…Continue reading