British negotiators have capitulated to key European demands for a phased approach to Brexit talks, agreeing to park discussions on free trade until they have thrashed out the cost of the multibillion-euro UK divorce settlement.
Putting a brave face on a concession that may further strengthen the tactical dominance of the EU, the Brexit secretary, David Davis, insisted his initial retreat remained consistent with long-term government strategy.To desribe a tactical reverse as capitulation verges on hyperbole. If Davis has his wits about him (which I accept is sometimes doubtful), he will know that all the issues are interlinked. It is thus impossible to come to an agreement on the divorce bill without reference to future payments associated with membership of the single market; nor can the position of EU nationals in the UK be separated from the question of the movement of labour from the EU post-Brexit. And over all hangs the question of the future jurisdiction of the ECJ.