The philosopher Friedrich Hegel described historical processes in terms of "thesis, antithesis and synthesis" — an initial phase where one particular view holds, then the opposite, followed by compromise. So far the Brexit debate appears to be dutifully following Hegelian logic. The widespread assumption that Britain would remain in the EU gave way, after the June referendum, to the antithesis: the prospect of "hard" Brexit. Now, courtesy of Japanese car maker Nissan, we have glimpsed the possible synthesis: a soft Brexit whereby Britain would retain full membership of the EU single market. Last week the company announced it would build the next generation of two models at its plant in Sunderland, northeast England. I cannot see how Nissan could have taken that decision without firm commitments from Prime Minister Theresa May, who met Nissan CE Carlos Ghosn two weeks ago. It makes no sense for the company to build these cars unless they expect to remain in the customs union and the ...

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