THERESA May’s Government was still in a state of shock yesterday after the jingoistic rhetoric of Brexit slammed into the hard realities of international diplomacy.

So good was the Prime Minister at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory she should go for the job of Scotland football manager, SNP MP Peter Grant joked in the Commons. As the Tory leader scrambled about trying to restart talks with furious Unionists in Belfast, annoyed politicians in Dublin and bemused negotiators in Brussels, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described it as an important moment in Britain’s journey out of Europe.

Here, she argued, was an oppor- tunity to stymie the hard Brexit that, polls suggest, most people in the UK don’t want. In a statement issued early yesterday morning, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said there should not be “different deals for different home nations”.

Reports suggested the MSP had phoned May to tell her she would speaking out. Davidson had also spoken to Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, twice during the day, promising to be on her side.

Sturgeon retweeted a comment that it was “really interesting the number of senior DUP people retweeting @RuthDavidsonMSP...”

That came ahead of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warning the DUP not to get carried away. Any deal over the Irish border would be between the UK Government and the European Union, and not Foster’s 10 Unionist MPs, he said.

However, there was some con- fusion over what he believed the deal to be, and what Foster and the DUP and what May and her Cabinet believed the deal to be. Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dail, the Irish premier insisted the UK had backed a proposal that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should continue have regulatory alignment after Brexit.

Varadkar said: “There are many political parties in Northern Ireland and we will listen to and respect all political parties in Northern Ireland and recognise that the majority did not vote to leave the European Union.

“This is very important. The negotiations are taking place between a sovereign government, the UK, on one hand and the European Union of which we are part.

“The negotiations are not involving one or any political party. This agreement, if we come to it, will not be involving one political party to the exclusion of others.”

The next European Council summit is next Thursday and Varadkar said he believes there is still time to put matters back on track.

He said the agreement on Monday had three possible options – an EU-UK free trade agreement that would allow free trade to continue bet- ween Britain and Ireland; a bespoke arrangement involving technology; or, if all else fails, an ongoing regulatory alignment between the north and south.

At Westminster, Brexit Secretary David Davis insisted everything was fine and that no secret Northern Ireland-only regulatory alignment deal had been done.

Post-Brexit Britain, he said, would have rules that achieve the same outcome as European Union regulations in areas such as employment rights and animal welfare.

Regulatory alignment, he told MPs, “isn’t having exactly the same rules”.

Responding to a question from Commons home affairs committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper, Davis then seemed to suggest regulatory alignment meant having the same ends as Europe but achieving them through different means.

He said: “I refer you to the speech the Prime Minister made in Florence because in it she dealt with this ... in it she made a very plain case for the sorts of divergence we would see after we left.

“And she made the case that there are areas where we want the same outcome but by different regulatory methods. We want to maintain safety, we want to maintain food standards, we want to maintain animal welfare, we want to maintain employment rights. We don’t have to do that by exactly the same mechanism as everybody else, that’s what regulatory alignment means.”

Number 10 was later reluctant to say it supported Davis’s definition.

Meanwhile, Labour’s Keir Starmer said Monday had given a “the phrase ‘coalition of chaos’ new meaning”.

He said: “It’s one thing to go to Brussels and fall out with those on the other side of the negotiating table; it’s quite another to go to Brussels and fall out with those supposedly on your own side of the negotiating table.”