This is something of a work in progress, for which I’m extremely grateful for thoughts.
A fantasy PM would use Thursday’s result to get a programme for savage EU reform and a two-circle Europe, get a UK political mandate for that, then use it to checkmate both Juncker and Nicola. Here’s how:
First, we need to keep mind of our friends abroad. Spoilers: Angela’s one.
Besides her, the head of the German Greens has just come out today (here, at 3.15), and made a case for major EU reforms followed by a second GB referendum.
Juncker, Shulz, Italy, France, and parts of the SPD want to rush the divorce before it becomes a wake-up call for reform: they believe Eurofederalism can rocket ahead without the UK, and are giddy to get shot of Britain.
But Brussels watchers say Angela is minded to do whatever it takes to keep the UK in the single market. In this camp, where the UK can build bridges, are the Dutch, Austria, the Irish (naturally), and the Visegrad 4.
The key is to prevent the quick divorce that the Eurofederalists are calling for, because they see what could happen in a long game: a core Europe pursuing ever closer union, and a closely affiliated economic group around it.
Produce a savagely reformed EU, with more democracy—one where Britain and northern European countries can choose to belong to a trade-orientated circle, and southern Europe can build its political union unhindered—and you will have both improved the EU, and given the British people something more worth supporting.
There’s a Chinese card game called Finding Friends, and it’s time to play it. The UK could reconcile itself to a departing economy, the breakup of the country, and the roar of social divisions exposed over the weekend.
Or, it can wake up thinky-brain and figure out how to save our economy, heal this weekend’s divisions, give the French a good kicking in the bargain—and win.