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Boris Johnson and the Poisoned Chalice

Slowly the shape of what will happen after the Brexit vote is emerging. There are unlikely to be any negotiations before Article 50 is triggered and the leaving talks can start only then.

The EU will make a take-it or leave-it offer on future arrangements which must be approved by all EU members. The words coming out of Europe suggest this will, at best, be along the lines of those given to Norway. They could hardly offer anything better so the UK could be faced with probably making a similar contribution to EU funds and joining the Shengen area.

The alternative would be operating outside the free market on WTO rules which include tariffs.

If those options continue to look likely there is one other course the new prime minister could take: an announcement that Article 50 would not be invoked. Some in Europe might not like that very much but it would preserve the status quo, albeit with less bargaining power than before.

It was noticeable how often David Cameron answering questions in the Commons this afternoon said: “That will be a matter for the next prime minister to decide.” You could almost hear him adding “thank God”.

Whoever becomes prime minister will be accepting a poisoned chalice. Is Boris Johnson up for that?

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