A flag manufacturer folds finished Union Flags and EU flags at the factory of 'Flagmakers' in Chesterfield, northern England on March 24, 2017. The British government has announced its intention to trigger the Article 50 clause to begin the UK's withdrawl from the European Union (EU) on March 29. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
© Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

When Theresa May declared that Brexit meant Brexit it sounded like a tautology. Whichever side of the debate you were on, the expressed “will of the people” would be paramount.

As Tim Harford points out ( FT Weekend, May 19/20) this no longer looks such a sure thing. Domestic growth is faltering and few countries are rushing to embrace Britain as a trading partner.

The Conservative party is tearing itself apart over Brussels’ unpalatable severance terms.

Elsewhere in the world, where nuclear powers are led by men whose intentions often seem malign and whose actions are unpredictable, national security has become a potent topic.

Suddenly the EU, warts and all, has its charms. Leaving it at this critical juncture in global affairs now looks less like a leap in the dark, with at least the possibility of a safe landing, and more like a leap from frying pan into blazing furnace.

To coin another catchphrase, perhaps therefore the time has come to call off the calling-off; or at least put it on hold for a few years until things settle down a bit.

After all, once upon a time resisting swift, radical change was something the Conservative party did rather well.

John Boothman

St Lawrence, Jersey, UK

Get alerts on Letter when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)