James Forsyth

Theresa May: Brexit does mean Brexit

Theresa May: Brexit does mean Brexit
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The Cabinet Office 1916—2016: The Birth of Modern Government

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Theresa May’s appearance in the Commons today debuted some new language but didn’t tell us much about what she’ll set out to the Cabinet on Friday. May repeated that membership of the European Economic Area would not respect the result of the referendum. Now, she has said this several times before but her comment will reassure some Brexiteers. They’ll be less reassured, though, by her dodging the question when Jacob Rees-Mogg asked her if the UK would continue to be bound by the Common External Tariff after Brexit.

May was conciliatory in her tone at the despatch box, but she seemed particularly keen to calm Brexiteers.  When Desmond Swayne asked her if the deal would be recognisably Brexit, she told him: ‘There has been much jocularity about Brexit meaning Brexit but it does mean Brexit’.

Perhaps, the most enlightening bit of the whole statement came at the start when May emphasised that Britain is the biggest defence spender in Europe. This was, perhaps, a hint of a boost to defence spending as planned French and German increases in their military budget would—if delivered—see that title threatened.