Her Brexit speech at Lancaster House was lacklustreby John McTernan / January 18, 2017 / Leave a comment
The five most frequently used words in Theresa May’s Lancaster House Brexit speech yesterday were, in order, “Britain,” “Europe,” “EU,” “trade” and “want.” And it is the verb “want” that is doing all the heavy lifting. The fundamental flaw in May’s plan for a “global Britain” is that she breaks one of the iron laws of politics—do not believe in what you hope for. This was in no sense a plan, it was a wish list plain and simple.
There is a straightforward test as to whether political language is banal boilerplate—can you imagine someone arguing the opposite of what a politician proudly proclaims? Take the “Objectives and Ambitions” section of the Prime Minister’s speech. Would anyone ever argue:
“So today I want to outline our objectives for the negotiation ahead. 12 objectives that amount to one big goal: a stale, negative and destructive partnership between Britain and the European Union. And as we negotiate that partnership, we will be driven by some simple principles: we will provide as much uncertainty and obscurity as we can at every stage. And we will take this opportunity to make Britain weaker, to make Britain more unfair, and to build a more Parochial Britain too.”
Of course not.
And so it went on, with the PM setting out her twelve objectives.
But the purpose of May’s…