Just another week in British politics
After a new Brexit plan, politics creates fresh depths of chaos
And the worst is yet to come
A really sensible government would have drawn up a plan for how to leave the European Union before calling a referendum on whether to do so.
A sane one would have devised a strategy before triggering exit negotiations.
Britain, by contrast, announced its departure plan on July 6th,
when three quarters of the time it has for talking to Brussels had already been used up.
And even then the long-overdue reckoning with reality sent the government reeling.
Two cabinet ministers and two Conservative Party vice-chairmen have quit;
the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said in his resignation letter that the Brexit "dream is dying".
Those abandoning ship are furious that Theresa May has dropped a hard separation from the EU for a softer deal, preserving many legal and economic ties.
For now, the prime minister seems unsinkable (wooden objects tend to be).
But her belated move towards a realistic Brexit has just begun.
As the truth sinks in, more turmoil is in store.
The task for Mrs May and the EU is to ensure that the Brexit project does not descend into anarchy.
Mrs May's Brexit plan marks a decisive shift.
Her approach had previously consisted mainly of ruling things out:
no single-market membership, no free movement of labour, no obedience to foreign judges.
Now she has said what she wants.
She proposes that Britain remain, in effect, in the single market for goods, and in a looser system of mutual recognition for services.
In return she promises not to undercut EU standards for the environment, social policies or state aid.
She proposes a dispute-resolution mechanism that implies a role for the European Court of Justice.
And she suggests that Britain stay in a customs union with the EU
until a clever new tariff-collection mechanism can be set up (which may well mean for ever).