Talking of Brexit, has the UK government hit on a new negotiating tactic? You start by creating gratuitously one of the greatest international problems since the Second World War. Once the unthinkable has happened, after a campaign based in part on crude xenophobia, you delay as long as possible saying what you want or indeed when you want to talk. In the meantime there are increasing acts of violence against peaceful taxpaying citizens from Europe, and all the while you refuse to say that EU nationals are welcome to stay in the UK. You pick a team composed of someone who has, in his newspaper columns, insulted practically every respected world figure, including the President of the US – trying to give traction to the ‘birther’ movement just as Trump has abandoned ship; someone whose anti-European obsessions are matched only by his intellectual limitations; and a discredited former Defence Minister, closely aligned with the American Far Right. Your ministers confuse their negotiating partners by displaying woeful ignorance of both EU law and WTO rules. You then bewilder your European ‘friends and allies’ by saying you will leave but that before you go, you’ll sabotage their policies. Having said beforehand that you wanted to leave the EU because Turkey would be joining by 2020 – which it won’t – you bemuse the Turks (and everyone else) by encouraging Turkey to join the EU just as you’re leaving (this is reverse Groucho Marx, ‘I wouldn’t belong to any club which has you a member’). Your ministers travel the world trying to open prematurely talks with third countries on trade deals only to be reminded by them – better informed about EU law; and quite frankly not that interested – that you can’t start them before you leave the EU. You keep insulting the lead negotiators for Europe, and make wildly optimistic claims as to what your own team can achieve. You try to infiltrate the other side by begging Malta to lend them your diplomats to its forthcoming presidency. You campaigned for democratic control yet you intend denying your own Parliament a say on Article 50 and the mandate for the talks. This is a negotiating stance worthy of North Korea, without the flamboyance.