The process of the UK leaving the EU is supposed to be clarified this week with a keynote address by Prime Minister Theresa May in the Italian city of Florence. However, in advance of this, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson headed off on a solo run, seeming to reinforce the message that the UK must take a hard line on the terms for exit. It had been expected that the Prime Minister would use her speech to sound conciliatory and pave the way for negotiations in Brussels to move on.

The divide in the UK Government is the largest single obstruction to Brexit discussions moving on to another level, with Scottish Conservatives among MPs that would prefer an arrangement with the EU. This problem in the current governing Conservative Party goes back almost three decades to when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. The original division was built on resistance on further integration and currency union, and the division has remained ever since, coming to a head with last year’s referendum. It was a product of then Prime Minister David Cameron kicking the can down the road when he was party leader and so long as the Liberal Democrats were part of his coalition government, a referendum was never going to get parliamentary approval.