Anyone wishing to understand the tensions slowly building in the British government should study the policy arguments of the past few days. The divide is not as simple as often suggested, between free marketers and interventionists. There are a few non-interventionists in Boris Johnson’s administration. The strain is between two only partially aligned visions of Brexit Britain: the cohesion country versus the start-up nation.

The rival policy principles are visible in the debates over allowing Huawei into the UK’s 5G network, immigration controls and the future of HS2, the high-speed rail project connecting London to big cities of the north. On one side is the notion of a re-engineered competitive economy with new hi-tech industries. On the other is the more simple imperative of fixing the social problems that were there before the Brexit vote...

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