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Demonstrators against Brexit gathered to challenge Theresa May outside the Florentine venue of her speech.

The best way to understand the stupidity of Theresa May’s speech on Brexit would be if an interviewer approached Jeremy Corbyn and asked how it feels for him to be the de facto leader of the Conservative government.

That is what Mrs May has done; she has admitted that she has no ideas of her own, so she has adopted Mr Corbyn’s and kicked the Brexit can another two years down the line. Perhaps she hopes she will have been removed from 10 Downing Street by then.

Her speech, touted as providing clarity on the UK’s desires for Brexit, turned out to be waffle. And it has disgusted commentators on all sides.

Here’s an example. She said the result of the EU referendum showed the people of the UK “want more direct control of decisions that affect their daily lives; and that means those decisions being made in Britain by people directly accountable to them. The strength of feeling that the British people have about this need for control and the direct accountability of their politicians is one reason why, throughout its membership, the United Kingdom has never totally felt at home being in the European Union.”

According to whom? This Writer does not recall being asked about that – how about you? From the indignation on the social media, I would imagine not:

“The eyes of the world are on us,” she said – but did any of the European dignitaries she invited to Florence actually turn up?

“I said that the United Kingdom would seek to secure a new, deep and special partnership with the European Union,” she told us. The response was predictable:

This should have made alarm bells chime in many people’s heads: “To make this partnership work, because disagreements inevitably arise, we will need a strong and appropriate dispute resolution mechanism.” What, like the ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ system that became the main reason the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership treaty was scuppered? No, thank you. We don’t need any agreements that put corporations about law-making governments!

Here’s the part where she adopted Labour’s policy on a transitional period, although she tried to claim ownership of the idea and put a time limit of two years on it. She said a “period of implementation would be in our mutual interest. That is why I am proposing that there should be such a period after the UK leaves the EU… During the implementation period access to one another’s markets should continue on current terms and Britain also should continue to take part in existing security measures. The framework for this strictly time-limited period, which can be agreed under Article 50, would be the existing structure of EU rules and regulations.”

And she caved in to the EU on the question of the UK’s payments to that organisation. They will continue, even – in part – after we have left the bloc altogether: “The UK will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership. And as we move forwards, we will also want to continue working together in ways that promote the long-term economic development of our continent. This includes continuing to take part in those specific policies and programmes which are greatly to the UK and the EU’s joint advantage, such as those that promote science, education and culture – and those that promote our mutual security… We would want to make an ongoing contribution to cover our fair share of the costs involved.”

The commitment to go on paying caused worry in certain quarters – because we know who will foot the bill in the end:

The speech won the disapproval of – well, practically everybody:

There was plenty of speculation on the input of Mrs May’s deeply-divided Conservative cabinet:

And there was plenty of nit-picking among the less-clear parts of the speech (which, let’s be honest, was most of it):

Representatives of the EU were utterly non-plussed:

But the most telling reaction has to be the response of the financial markets – here signified by trading on the Pound. Look what happened to Sterling during the speech:

Last word has to go to Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn – the man whose position Mrs May seems to have stolen wholesale. For him, it was hard to tell whether the biggest disappointment of the speech was the fact that it stated only things he had already explained, or the fact that none of the exotic location could be seen while it was being delivered by our robotic prime minister:


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