David Davis’s grin masked grim reality of ‘taking back control’ – the complexity of even basic issues. This is just the start

On day two of Brexit talks, the British lost the public relations battle early. The official photo shows the EU side on the left: two women and one man, each with a hefty sheaf of papers, a pen poised. On the right, the all-male British trio, almost empty handed. Only Olly Robbins, the permanent secretary to the Department for Exiting the European Union, had a slim notebook (shut) and pen.

David Davis leaned on an empty glass table, nothing but his reflection before him. There was not even a briefing paper with the words “have cake and eat it” scrawled into the margins – much less the silver spy-proof briefcase Davis reportedly uses to guard the nation’s top-secret Brexit plans.

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