The pace quickens, the tone toughens (1)

The Phoney War is over. British Prime Minister Theresa May has still not set out any sort of plan but her statement to Sky News that she will not seek to retain ‘bits of EU membership’ is ominous. Combined with her emphasis on border controls, it would seem to rule out any form of single market membership. Her failure to answer questions about prioritising immigration over the single market was interpreted as a sign that she and the government have not made up their minds on the crucial issues and/or are muddled in their thinking. Columnist Chris Johns reckons her lack of clarity is based on a brutal dilemma. Writing in the Irish Times, he said: “The unspoken fear is that May’s real problem is not lack of decisiveness but an unwillingness to confront her real problem: it’s either rock-hard Brexit or be devoured by her own party’s extremists. Every single choice about Brexit boils down to either the hardest of departures or a compromise with Europe of one kind or another. And any hint of compromise enrages Ukip, the Mail and the Telegraph and all the other inhabitants of the British political lunatic asylum.”