After three years and two missed deadlines, we must leave the EU on October 31.” Thus did Boris Johnson launch his campaign for leadership of the Conservative party at a pivotal moment in the UK’s history. Choices made now will reverberate for generations. Trusting Johnson’s words is always foolhardy. But the implications are clear: if he cannot obtain a better deal than Theresa May’s (which the House of Commons has rejected three times), he must either turn tail or choose a no-deal Brexit.

Leaving the EU is in itself damaging: it will worsen the UK’s trading opportunities and influence on its continent and the world. That this is happening when the Western order is disintegrating and a new cold war between the US and China is emerging makes the UK even more vulnerable. But a no-deal option would be far more damaging than leaving the EU in an orderly manner. The fact that senior politicians are contemplating it renders them altogether unfit for office.

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