Entry 39

How would you feel if the agent selling your dilapidated, ruinously expensive second home pulled out days before you were rid of the expense?

‘Gobsmacked’ is a blunt Anglo-Saxon way of describing your feelings. That naughty rude word probably summed up Prime Minister Theresa May’s private feelings about the resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers, her chief Brexit fixer, weeks before talks to withdraw began . In UK government public speak, the words she would use are ‘disappointing’, ‘a little surprised’, ‘a minor distraction’ and ‘an opportunity to sharpen our case’.

Within two days (January 5), however, Prime Minister May had a new Brexit fixer. He was Sir Tim Barrow, a diplomat who was once British Ambassador to Russia. That is the sort of background likely to re-assure May that Brexit negotiations are in safe and hardened hands. The speed of his appearance is a sure sign that negotiating Brexit is the most important matter to have faced Britain in the last forty years.

It’s becoming clear that Britain’s negotiating position is a trade off between closing borders to immigrants to a degree unstated; getting UK tariff–free access to EU markets and offering the same access to Britain’s large domestic market.

Playing those three balls in Brussels at the same time is helped by having played ball with President Putin in Moscow.

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