Has nobody told Dominic Raab that Britain is an island? | Rafael Behr

The baffling ignorance of the Brexit secretary further erodes the idea that a successful Brexit is possible

In July 2016, on the eve of his appointment as secretary of state for Brexit, David Davis predicted that the whole thing would be a doddle. Brussels would cater to Britain’s needs and the prime minister would simultaneously negotiate “a free trade area massively larger than the EU”. Within a year, Davis had changed his tune. It was complicated, he conceded. In June 2017, he told an audience of business leaders that the intricacies of the negotiations “make the Nasa moonshot look quite simple”. In July 2018, Davis resigned.

He is not the only gung-ho Eurosceptic to meet a steep learning curve in government. His successor, Dominic Raab, is at a different stage on the journey, but the trajectory looks familiar. His speech to Tory conference this year had the swagger of the Brexit buccaneer who has yet to experience the pitch and roll of open water. “If the EU want a deal, they need to get serious,” he said. He did not specify what aspect of the continental position was, in his eminent opinion, unserious.

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