The UK Prime Minister announced last Friday that the talks on a possible trade deal between the UK and the EU were over. He claimed that the EU was not willing to offer the UK acceptable terms. He said that, since the outset of the negotiations, all the UK had ever wanted was the same terms the EU had agreed with Canada. This was misleading. The UK asked the EU for a full no-tariff deal on all goods and services, whereas, under its deal, Canada still has to pay some tariffs and has little access for services.

Canada is an ocean away, whereas the UK has a land border with the EU. The EU and UK economies are so entangled that the UK, unencumbered by EU rules, would be much more of a threat to the integrity of the single market than Canada, on the far side of the Atlantic, could ever be. That has been explained to the UK over and over again. Boris Johnson based his dramatic announcement on Friday on the fact that the European Summit had, on Thursday, dropped the adjective “intensified” in its reference to resumed trade talks with the UK. He followed this up by rudely telling Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, not to come to London for planned talks on Monday.