The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, made a major speech January 17th at London’s Lancaster House, addressing her position on Brexit, the decision by the voting British public to exit the European Union on June the 23rd of 2017.
The speech has been long anticipated as various political factions attempt to gauge what a May-led Cabinet position will be as Britain engages in a 2-year process to officially exit the EU.
In her speech, she outlined a few key points that clarified exactly where the May Cabinet stood on exiting the EU. For starters, any hope of a soft exit was shot down in this speech, with May insisting that the exit would be total and complete.
May said of the exit that it was “not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out…..”
She also had a direct message to the Brexit opposition to undo what, in her eyes, was a done deal, that Britain would be leaving the EU. May stated, “…..one of the reasons that Britain’s democracy has been such a success for so many years is that the strength of our identity as one nation, the respect we show to one another as fellow citizens, and the importance we attach to our institutions means that when a vote has been held we all respect the result. The victors have the responsibility to act magnanimously. The losers have the responsibility to respect the legitimacy of the outcome. And the country comes together.”
Further heightening the urgency of her challenge to the anti-Brexit camp, May made it clear that attempting to delegitimize Brexit by attempting to characterize Britan as being weak and the EU as being strong ould have potentially lasting damage to all of the people in Britain.
May declared, “business isn’t calling to reverse the result, but planning to make a success of it. The House of Commons has voted overwhelmingly for us to get on with it. And the overwhelming majority of people – however they voted – want us to get on with it too.”
May also had strong words for those in the EU calling for punitive action to be taken against Britain as a punishment for their exit from the EU.
May said, “I know there are some voices calling for a punitive deal that punishes Britain and discourages other countries from taking the same path. That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe. And it would not be the act of a friend. Britain would not – indeed we could not – accept such an approach. And while I am confident that this scenario need never arise – while I am sure a positive agreement can be reached – I am equally clear that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.”
May added, “We would be free to strike trade deals across the world. And we would have the freedom to set the competitive tax rates and embrace the policies that would attract the world’s best companies and biggest investors to Britain. But for the EU, it would mean new barriers to trade with one of the biggest economies in the world.”
May identified what she believed was the key reason the British voted to leave the EU, and it had to do with radically different traditions in governance between Britain and the rest of Europe.
May explained, “Our political traditions are different. Unlike other European countries, we have no written constitution, but the principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty is the basis of our unwritten constitutional settlement. We have only a recent history of devolved governance – though it has rapidly embedded itself – and we have little history of coalition government. The public expect to be able to hold their governments to account very directly, and as a result supranational institutions as strong as those created by the European Union sit very uneasily in relation to our political history and way of life.”
May further stressed her point when she said, “….the European Union has struggled to deal with the diversity of its member countries and their interests. It bends towards uniformity, not flexibility. Our vote to leave the European Union was no rejection of the values we share……It was a vote to restore, as we see it, our parliamentary democracy, national self-determination, and to become even more global and internationalist in action and in spirit.”
The speech, in the end, leaves little doubt of the intentions of Britain under a May leadership to sever all membership ties from the EU completely. It is also clear that May intends on taking a hardline stance both with the anti-Brexit camp within Britain and the Punitive camp within the EU. As some are already dubbing this speech, Theresa May has made it clear, she intends on making Britain great again, and that means leaving the shackles (as she views them) of the EU behind.
Beyond the speech itself, insiders within the May camp has also intonated that any attempt by the anti-Brexit camp to gum up the works in the Brexit process will be met with an immediate call for new elections.
The current political climate heavily favors Theresa May and the conservatives. According to Laborlist.org, “Theresa May holds a 56 point advantage over Jeremy Corbyn over who is doing a good job, a new poll says. The prime minister has a +22 rating, with 46 per cent positive to 24 per cent negative, whereas Corbyn has a -34 rating, with just 20 per cent of people surveyed thinking he is doing a good job to the 54 per cent thinking he is doing poorly.”