From endangered raspberries to stroppy peers, the road to EU divorce is littered with potential obstacles and pitfalls. Here are some of them
A IS FOR ASTRONAUTS
Space, the final frontier. As a contingency against Brexit going horribly wrong, the government hopes to go where no government has gone before and seek out new worlds and new civilisations. Ministers will be presenting a space industry bill giving them the power to license spaceplanes and spaceports. So if he fails to secure the frictionless borders with the EU that he seeks, Liam Fox can try his luck negotiating free trade agreements with extraterrestrials.
B IS FOR BORIS JOHNSON
Once and likely future pretender to the Tory crown whose denials of interest in Mrs Mays tottering throne are strangely disbelieved by everyone. Some Boris-backers in his party argue that their next leader needs to be a Tory who campaigned for Brexit in order to persuade the Conservative party to swallow a less stark version of withdrawal which prioritises protecting the economy. Johnsonphobes say no one in Europe takes him seriously. They also point to a shambolic turn on the BBC last week. Under interrogation by the excellent Eddie Mair of Radio 4s PM programme, the foreign secretary registered a 10 on the internationally recognised Abbott scale of car crash interviews.
C IS FOR CITIZENS RIGHTS
The future status of EU citizens in Britain and Brits living in the EU27 is a crucial zone of contention in the opening skirmishes of the negotiations. Mrs May made what she called a bold and generous offer. The commission sniffed that it was insufficient. Behind the posturing, both sides agree on the imperative to reach an agreement granting reciprocally recognised rights to the millions affected. That doesnt mean getting there will be easy.
D IS FOR DEEP (AND SPECIAL) RELATIONSHIP
What the government says it wants with the EU after the break-up. Darling, its me, not you. What the prime minister also suggested that she had with the Democratic Unionist party until it began bargaining over the price of its support in Westminster. The 10 Unionist MPs will be critical in keeping the Tory minority government on the road and in knife-edge, Brexit-related votes in the Commons. The Unionists are already fuming that the Tories are taking them for granted; the Tories are already harrumphing that the DUP is too greedy. This is a pointer to just how vulnerable the government will be in parliament where it will be at risk of ambush and defeat at each stage of the Brexit process by combinations of Tory rebels, opposition parties (see Holyrood and Jeremy Corbyn) and stroppy peers (see Lords).
E IS FOR EMERGENCY BRAKE
An idea for curbing immigration that David Cameron used in his doomed attempt to make the EU more palatable to swing voters. The UK would be granted some power to curb surges of immigration while still retaining effective membership of the single market. Some Labour people have promoted an alternative notion: migration to be restricted to those who have a job offer in Britain. The EU might regard this as an example of Britain trying to have its cake and eat it (See Boris).