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Friday 18 May 2018

Yesterday’s Brexit Brunch pointed to the soft Leavers in our midst who are likely eventually to consent to the disastrous terms of Theresa May’s withdrawal, following yesterday’s revelation in the Telegraph that she intends to keep Britain in the Customs Union for a time-limited, but likely distant, period. The spectre of a Brexit only in name hangs menacingly over all our heads, but already the Daily Mail, which supported Leave at the referendum, seeks to appease. This morning’s editorial supports the prime minister’s latest backward step, even before it has been made official. A betrayal.

The Mail’s editorial of course does not reflect the views of the 17.4m, the frustration for most is deep and will linger interminably.

“This is not seizing the opportunity Brexit presents. It is defeatism, attempted damage limitation without realising the REAL damage of a half-Brexit,” says the Sun.

Other than that, with the Royal Wedding imminent (how very coincidentally timed that was) dominating the newsfeed, there is very little to report on this side of the Channel.

Yesterday’s edition of this blog also warned Brussels would not accept May’s plea to remain in the CU only until the available technology for a functioning, but invisible border comes on stream.

This type of border, known as Maximum Facilitation, or Max-Fac, is the promise keeping the Daily Mail onside and the wolves at bay from Number 10 – note how little chatter there was yesterday about letters to the 1922 committee and a call for a change of Tory leadership. Instead, it is the EU pointing out the holes.

“Max Fac is a bit of virtual reality, it’s not available in the real world. It’s based on a couple of premises not a single country would be able to accept,” a senior EU official tells the Sun’s man in Brussels.

“The costs are big and even then you don’t end up with a smooth border. You could perhaps have Max Fac in 2085, but it’s not readily available now or even in three to five years. It would be the miracle solution.”

The EU has its own agenda of course, the scorn piled on British solutions here is a repeat of previous acts of mockery, which have proved so effective in bullying the PM into a corner.

But the same EU official conceded a deal would have to be made: EU “Leaders won’t want to take any additional risk that would dampen growth even more. There’s still a lot of common sense out there.”

The FT has a similar article, but (in true pro-EU style) has salvaged a rather less optimistic quote from another unnamed EU27 official: “Some [leaders] will be tempted, no doubt.”

Nevertheless, the FT hits on the strategic advantage the prime minister has now gifted the EU. The appeal to stay in Customs Union temporarily runs against the grain of the EU’s hypocritical “no cherry picking” policy. “This would be one huge cherry,” says one EU official.

Brussels and the EU27 will surely approve May’s proposal, but on their terms, concessions over free movement beckon.

But only because the prime minister is so appallingly weak. Someone of the Jacob Rees-Mogg’s calibre would not yield nearly so easily. Westmonster have an exclusive piece by Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski, who today calls for Rees-Mogg to succeed May.