Boris Johnson believes in “cakeism”: having it and eating it. His plan to secure post-Brexit access to the European market for the City of London has a predictably lofty tone. Britain wants the right to set its own rules. It also wants a “permanent equivalence” regime — a recognition that rules are closely enough aligned to grant market access — that will last for “decades to come”.

Don’t kid yourselves, said the EU’s top negotiator, Michel Barnier. That option is not on offer. Indeed, a UK briefing paper, snapped outside Downing Street, appeared to acknowledge as much. The alternatives mooted were far less attractive.

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