With Farage rattled and MPs flexing their muscles, the real Brexit battle is just beginning

This week MPs will again debate the withdrawal bill to take the UK out of the EU. Soft Brexiters are increasingly confident, while the most prominent Leaver is plunged in gloom

When Nigel Farage emerged from a meeting in Brussels with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier shortly after midday last Monday his increasingly gloomy mood had darkened further. “The message I got was that they will be happy to trade chocolate and cheese and wine freely with us but when it comes to services, forget it. It ain’t going to happen. I think we are going to have a very bad deal.”

In the early hours of 24 June, 2016, the former Ukip leader, who had, arguably, done more than anyone to deliver the Leave vote, toured TV stations, triumphantly hailing the UK’s “independence day”. In Farage’s view it was not only a defining moment for Britain. It was also one that would demonstrate to other EU member states with strong or emerging eurosceptic movements – he cited Denmark, Italy, Sweden and Austria – that there was another way. “The EU is failing, the EU is dying. I hope that we have knocked the first brick out of the wall,” he declared in the glow of victory.

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