The key reason why the government doesn’t want to trigger divorce negotiations with the EU is that Britain still has to decide on what alternative relationship to seek.
There was no consensus on the Leave side on this. Indeed, contradictory visions were offered.
Some advocated seeking to keep full access to the European market which, as they are now beginning to admit, would mean accepting the common rules for the common market (without a say on them anymore), including free movement. But opposing free movement was the main argument used by many Leave campaigners.
Others Leave campaigners therefore advocated leaving the single market completely, even though that would mean British manufactured exports to it would face a tariff and the financial sector would lose its automatic right to ‘passport’ various banking and insurance services across Europe, endangering millions of jobs in Britain.
Until a government can resolve these differences and go for one or other of these unpalatable options, the negotiations can hardly get underway.
And when they do choose one or the other, there will be horrified gasps from many – including Brexit voters who will say they didn’t vote for that!