Amber Rudd opens the door to The Old Custom House in Hastings and pauses briefly; behind her is the cold grey continuum of sky and sea that frames Britain’s history, and somewhere beyond in the far distance: mainland Europe. Every British schoolchild learns about this glowering stretch of sea. In 1066 Norman knights sailed their longships across from France and stormed ashore at nearby Pevensey beach, the last time foreign dominion was imposed on Britain. Never again would Britain be conquered — until 45 years ago when the country inexplicably agreed to surrender its sovereignty to a load of tassel-loafered bureaucrats in Brussels. Thanks to Brexit, Independence Day beckons and Britain will be a proper country again. Or so the Brexiters say. The woman walking into this whitewashed seafood restaurant does not quite see it that way. Rudd, one of the most senior pro-Europeans in Theresa May’s cabinet, is at the forefront of the battle to stop a chaotic “no deal” exit on March 29. With ...

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