Compromise is the loveliest word in democratic politics and beyond – in lasting relationships, labor disputes, international relations. British Prime Minister Theresa May has never more needed the deployment of this lovely and necessary word than now. Earlier this month, she managed to convince her cabinet – composed of both pro- and anti-Brexit ministers – to accept a compromise between a complete break with the European Union on the one side, and a more gentle exit on the other.

The agreement she managed to thrash out is a fraught document, keeping as many of the advantages as she thinks the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will accept, and emphasizing the freedoms it will give a Brexit-ed Britain. It is also replete with unanswered questions and with proposals that will demand large upheavals in the movement both of people and commodities. It will harmonize the handling of all goods, aimed at avoiding friction on the Irish border; the European Court and UK courts w...

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