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May's Brexit Mastery

Time for the United Kingdom to Move On

Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May, who is due to take over as prime minister on Wednesday, waves as she leaves after a cabinet meeting at number 10 Downing Street, in central London, Britain July 12, 2016. Peter Nicholls / Reuters

The quadrennial excitement of the Euro soccer competition, the green lawns of Wimbledon, and the racetrack at Silverstone provided three weeks of distraction from the consequences of the United Kingdom’s June 23 referendum. Prime Minister David Cameron was resigning, yes, but nothing would happen until his successor was in place, and it would take months for the country’s political parties, all in crisis, to select new leaders. Some supporters of staying in the European Union fancied using the lull to hold a second referendum to confirm the first, which was not binding. Demoralizing threats kept coming—from George Soros, from the IMF, from others—about the cost of withdrawal. Even the pro-Brexit camp seemed suddenly confused about the economic benefits of leaving the EU. Many started to imagine a withdrawal from the union pushed to such a distant future that it would never actually happen.

Time accelerated on July 12,

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