A common ploy for companies selling confectionery, foodstuffs, soap powder and so forth whose brand is looking tired or whose sales are flagging is to make some minor changes to the product and then put a big bold sticker saying “New Improved” on the packaging. As Theresa May is finding out, it doesn’t always work, particularly if “new and improved” means that there is no discernible change to the product, and especially if it doesn’t do what it says on the tin. Fortunately for her (?), politicians aren’t subject to the Trade Descriptions Act.
One thing of which we can be certain is that ‘the deal’ hasn’t changed at all – that would require agreement by the EU27, and no such agreement has even been sought, let alone received. She claims that she has ‘compromised’ by extending the temporary customs union until the next General Election. That’s as close to the truth as anything she says, but insofar as it’s a compromise, it’s being made with reality, not with her opponents. No-one has ever believed that negotiations on a future trade arrangement could be completed within the transition period anyway. And it’s only a partial compromise even then – no-one seriously believes that they would be completed by the next General Election either. A convincing salesperson might just have persuaded people that this really and truly is a new product, but no company serious about a rebrand would use someone like the PM to try and sell it.
Another thing that often happens when companies try the “new improved” approach is that the customers protest and demand a return to the old recipe. Still, that’s at least one thing which the PM doesn’t need to worry about.