In the sameway, Remainers might once also have been satisfied by the prospect of a customs union, so long as it was tied to a vote in Parliament on whether to hold a second referendum. But when Mrs May belatedly offered such things this week, it was dismissed by all sides as inadequate. The scope for compromise has drastically narrowed from where it stood in 2016. Talks with the Labour opposition and indicative votes among mps on possible Brexit options have gone nowhere, in large part because they were initiated so late in the day. Mrs May inherited a divided country which urgently needed to be coaxed back together. Her approach has driven its two tribes still further apart.
No one should assume that Mrs May’s exit will solve Britain’s Brexit problems. Mr Johnson proposes to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement, but the EU is sure to refuse him. At home, most Leave-voters detest the current deal so vehemently that they would rather quit with no deal at all (another dreadful legacy of Mrs May, who spent two years saying Britain could prosper with no deal, before admitting that she was wrong). Upstart parties on both the Leave and Remain sides are tugging Labour and the Tories towards the extremes. The possibility of cross-party agreement seems more remote than ever. And as the chances of no deal edge up, the pound is sliding. Mrs May has had a wretched time in office. Her successor will find it no easier.