Theresa May addresses Brexit
By Chris Burke
This article is published on: 25th January 2017
Theresa May, given one of the hardest Prime ministerial assignments perhaps of all time, gave her anticipated speech of the UK’s plans to leave the EU.
Why was it so hard?
When you have a referendum vote decided by only 2%, you have almost two equal sides to please. Those who voted to leave the EU, and those who were against it. Rather than alienate them and make them feel bad that the UK is going to leave the EU, like any good leader she had to try and get them feeling positive that, although they didn’t want it, perhaps there is lots to feel optimistic about leaving the Euro. A tough job in anyone’s book.
What did she say?
It was more of a case of what she didn’t say. Like a poker player, there was no way Theresa was going to give away to the other ‘Players’ what cards she was holding, how she was going to play them and perhaps most importantly which were her ‘Trump’ cards. What she did though was tell everyone what Britain was and wasn’t going to accept and how it would be done.
What information did she give away?
She will not settle for a bad deal for Britain, and she is prepared to walk away from the negotiations if she feels the deal is not right for the UK. Indication was also given that any agreement that was reached would be voted on by UK Parliament. She also confirmed that Britain will leave the EU’s single market – despite backing membership less than a year ago – to regain control of immigration policy and said she wants to renegotiate the UK’s customs agreement and seek a transition period to phase in changes. Her 12 point plan which starts with confirming leaving the EU and ending in a smooth, orderly Brexit, had recollections of a speech Hugh Grant gave in the film shown at every Christmas, ‘Love Actually’. It was very strong, very direct with clarity and highlighting the fact that Britain will not be bullied or pushed around. It is perhaps a strange comparison but it was arousing, just like the film, nonetheless.
How did it go down?
In essence very well. Theresa gave an assured, strong performance which the markets reacted to and she made it credible that Britain can still be a ‘Great’ force outside the EU. Whether this is the case has to be seen, but 50% of the reason why people react in life is their perception. And on this evidence, the people’s perception was good. Both from inside the UK and in the EU, most interestingly.