Oliver Wright, October 18 2018, 5:00pm, The Times
The trouble with summits is that no matter how much you plan they have a tendency to throw up unintended consequences.
So it was in Salzburg and so it is in Brussels.
Briefings yesterday evening by EU officials revealed that Theresa May had told other leaders during her 15-minute address that she was prepared to consider extending the 21-month transition period to break the impasse over the Irish border.
Downing Street had spent the day desperately trying not to address the issue, knowing that it would be political dynamite at home.
Once the other side had let the cat out of the bag, however, they had no choice but to engage and the revelation has set off a firestorm in London.
Nick Boles, a former skills minister, said that Conservatives were “close to despair” and feared that Mrs May was conspiring with the EU to force MPs to accept a “humiliating” compromise to avoid a chaotic Brexit.
The backbench Eurosceptic Nadine Dorries called for David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, to take over as caretaker leader.
Despite the hysteria, all is not quite as it seems. That doesn’t mean that it is good news for the prime minister, merely that her problems are not quite as caricatured.
Under the complicated deal being cobbled together between British and European negotiators to get around the backstop issue a consensus is forming on a legal and political deal that will allow all sides to claim partial victory.