Theresa May's Brexit Speech, Instant Reaction

Following Theresa May's Brexit speech, members of the Talk Politics team offer their instant reaction.  

"Not Norway. Not Canada. Not WTO rules.

Theresa May said she wants to ‘look beyond the precedents,’ in her speech on Brexit today, and as such has ruled out pretty much all ‘off the shelf’ arrangements with the EU. Nicola Sturgeon earlier implored May to ‘move away from vacuous rhetoric,’ and in many ways, she did; we will be leaving the Single Market and ending Freedom of Movement. We will leave the Common Fisheries Policy, but commit to upholding standards on State Aid, the environment, and workers’ rights. Upholding the Good Friday agreement will be central to the Government’s trade negotiations. We will bring UK law back into UK courts, but consult the European Court of Justice where appropriate.

It seems that Theresa May and her cabinet are finally reaching a position on Brexit, after their war cabinet meeting at Chequers last week. Certainly, the Conservative Party still controls the narrative on Brexit – after Jeremy Corbyn’s slightly incomprehensible policy position on the Customs Union received backlash from Labour heartlands. But May did note that neither side in the negotiations can get exactly what they want – hinting that she will be willing to compromise if Barnier, Juncker and co. can do the same. 

All in all, good. Not much that we didn’t already expect, and a classic Theresa May speech – overtly long and tedious. But we’re moving away from rhetoric to cold, hard policy – and that can only be a good thing."

Matt Gilllow, Founder

"The desire of Theresa May to reconcile warring factions both politically and socially was palpable in her most recent ‘Roadmap’ speech for Brexit. Whether it was the repeated use of collective pronouns, or the allusions to ‘shared’ aims and ambitions, the PM’s vision of Brexit is beginning to take more shape. Though some in Brussels will see this as yet more ‘cherry picking’, at least we are starting to get some concrete negotiating positions. Whether this will assuage the doubts of arch-Brexiteers or indeed concerned Remainers is not so crystalline. It was refreshing, however, to see Mrs. May tackle the elephant in the room: not everyone will be happy with the final Brexit arrangement. We may be moving past the ‘have cake and eat it’ phase, but we’re moving into discussions over scale, quantities and the all important recipe for this Brexit-themed cake. Expect plenty of fudge in the months to come"

Luke Walpole, Sub Editor  

"Theresa May struck a tone of pragmatism and common sense in her Brexit speech, making it clear to both sides of the debate that "This is a negotiation, and neither of us can have exactly what we want". Nonetheless, she was set on demonstrating that whatever deal was reached must work in the long term; going back to the negotiating table because things have broken down is evidently not an option. There was a welcome recognition that the Brexit debate had generated vicious debates not purely within the political sphere but also within society at large. In this way, she promoted unity with our European neighbours as opposed to a "distant relationship" , as well as the need to bring our country back together. Whilst there was nothing too surprising in the speech, it is certainly promising to witness policy starting to take shape."

Megan Field, Sub Editor  

Image: Number 10 @flickr 


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