It is true that a large majority of MPs in the UK would prefer Brexit not to happen, or for Brexit to be soft. It is also true that the UK government has shifted towards a softer version of Brexit. But you cannot simply add the two pieces of information together and conclude that the chances of a soft Brexit have therefore increased. On the contrary, the probability of a no-deal Brexit has never been as high as it is today. This seeming contradiction has its origins in the complex interaction of the politics of the UK and the EU. The latter reacted to last week’s Brexit white paper with polite restraint. Now it will study Theresa May ’s 98-page document on the UK’s proposed future relations with Europe and determine a joint position before commenting in detail. The European parliament’s Brexit steering group gave a cautious initial welcome, but also made clear that the EU will not compromise on its essential red lines, especially the indivisibility of the four freedoms: the movement...

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