As the Sunday news vine began getting heavy, that sole topic of all-consuming, toxic interest – Brexit – threatened to claim the casualty of the British Prime Minister herself, Theresa May. Interest centred on a possible troika that had busied itself on harrying May.
In any context, this troika would have seemed a compilation for pure comic effect: buffoonish Boris Johnson as replacement for PM, Michael Gove as his deputy, and Jacob Rees-Mogg, that “ornament on the backbenchers” as Chancellor. They would be the “dream team”, though the description of a hallucinatory nightmare is probably more appropriate.
In the course of Sunday night, a “source” in Downing Street issued a statement to delay the delivery of blows against May. Brexit meant an actual departure from the customs union, rather than some halfway house involving the continued payment of dues and obligations to observe Brussels’ wishes.
Were May not to have come clean on this, the Conservatives would have threatened a walk-out, resulting in a public split. According to an unnamed (they tend to be these days) Tory MP, “If they go for a customs union, the party will split.”
What did this Downing Street source go on to say? Instead of a Customs Union arrangement, the PM will seek one of two options: a “highly streamlined customs arrangement” or a customs partnership. The weasel words are coming thick and fast ahead of Brexit meetings this week.
The picture is, in other…