What took them so long? The UK government has spent more than a year figuring out something that was blindingly obvious the day after the Brexit referendum: it will be impossible to move to a new role outside of the EU without a significant transition phase, in which the status quo broadly prevails.

This was the advice that Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK’s former ambassador to the EU, and other much derided “experts” gave to Theresa May in the autumn. If the prime minister had heeded their guidance, her government would not be suffering yet another bout of Keystone Cops incompetence and confusion.

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