Ridicule of May’s #Brexit speech shows her weakness – and that of her supporters in the press

The front page of German newspaper Die Welt after Theresa May’s Brexit speech. The cover blurb, translated, says: “Prime Minister Theresa May leads Great Britain into isolation”.

Confession time: On Tuesday afternoon I had a brilliant idea to contrast the reaction to Theresa May’s Brexit speech – as provided by her supporters in the right-wing press – with the response from real people on the social media, and from the press and politicians in other countries, inside and outside the EU.

I would have published comments about different parts of her speech next to each other, with a ‘pro’ comment following an ‘anti’ remark, to demonstrate the strengths – or weaknesses – of each view. Good idea, right?

There’s only one problem: It’s impossible.

The amount of commentary coming in is like an avalanche, and with new stories happening all the time – plus real-life pressures here at Vox Towers – there simply isn’t enough time in the day.

So, with apologies, I’ll just have to settle for publishing the comments I’ve collected against Mrs May below – all in a jumble – and ask you to pick your own choices from the right-wing gibberish we’ve seen in the likes of the Daily Mail.

Shall we begin?

“From professing a tepid and bashful Europeanism when she was Home Secretary under David Cameron, [Theresa May] now supports a shameful, xenophobic nationalism… The nub of her 12-point programme is this exclusion of the UK from the market of 500 million consumers, which will fall to 65 million, plus those Britain can add through new trade deals – something hypothetical and difficult for a country which after four decades has lost experience in this arena outside the Union. Everything in May’s speech grated. The promise of a “positive” accord is fallacious. It is not positive to spurn European citizens, nor to discriminate against residents. Nor does it make sense to threaten the Europeans with whom she will have to negotiate over the next two years.” Spanish newspaper El Pais.

“Theresa May is ready to turn the UK into a low-tax, low-regulation haven after Brexit, her spokesperson confirmed today”. There was more. “Asked whether the prime minister backed comments made by the Chancellor Philip Hammond that the UK could be forced to abandon its ‘European economy with European style taxation’ her spokesperson said she ‘stands ready to do so’”.  UK Business Insider

“May will make clear that the UK will default to slashing taxes and regulation if we don’t agree an acceptable trade deal with the EU – in other words she will say ‘be nice or it’s commercial war’”. Robert Peston

Any Trades Union that backed Brexit must now know they have been had for mugs. Their members are set to be royally shafted. As to all those working class voters UKIP has been targeting – they will feel the full force of being made even more flexible, even more disposable, even less protected than before. Tim Fenton

Leaving the single market and turning the UK into a low-tax, low-regulation island off the coast of continental Europe may be how many Tory Brexiteers see our future — but for anyone who relies on the protections at work, who relies on public services or who provides those services, that would be a disaster. No-one voted to leave the EU to weaken their rights at work. Dave Prentis, Unison


Announcing that Britain will inevitably leave the single market, before the negotiations have even begun, is a disaster for the British economy. Accepting that immigration must trump all other concerns, whatever the cost, is a political failure. Suggesting that Britain may walk away from negotiations with no deal at all — as May has done — shows an astonishing lack of ambition. Niamh Ni Mhaoileoin, Left Foot Forward

For months, May has promised ‘the best deal for the United Kingdom’, but instead she’s delivered this. It’s a plan that — by her own admission https://www.theguardian.com/politics/video/2016/oct/25/theresa-may-private-brexit-warning-speech-to-goldman-sachs-audio — will leave the country materially worse off. We have to assume that some of her ambitions — like associate membership of the customs union — will never actually be achieved. Niamh Ni Mhaoileoin

“I did not really get it out of this speech that she wants to give up something. It was a little bit like cherry picking. So to speak: you can’t eat a cake without paying for it.” Michael Fuchs, senior advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel

“A hardline approach to Brexit may hold the Conservative party together, but it could rip Britain apart. And if we continue on this path – towards a hard Brexit – we risk having to explain to future generations why we knowingly put their economy, their prosperity and their place on the world stage in such peril.” Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London


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  1. Harvey Lloyd January 19, 2017 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    The Sound of Madness is a wonderful cartoon – how it sums up where we are, Harvey Lloyd

  2. Roland Laycock January 19, 2017 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    She as not got a clue, But I think she will side up to Trump (poor Lad) and do his dirty work in Europe for him and try to convince others to come out and join there new club watch this space

  3. mohandeer January 19, 2017 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    We really do need someone capable of getting us a good deal if Britain’s future is going to be bearable, the jokes are on us, not just May and her pathetic imitation of Mrs. Thatcher(who she is most definitely not – say what you will of “Maggie”).

  4. Barry Davies January 19, 2017 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    A German confused: On January 18th we had one of those tediously formal debates in Straz to review the results (such as they were) of the Dec 15th European Council meeting. Not surprisingly, Brexit was on the agenda. The first speech on behalf of the political groups was given by German MEP Manfred Weber, the leader of the EPP Group. He’s a perfectly agreeable guy, but he seemed deeply confused over the UK’s Brexit plans, despite the admirable clarity of Theresa May’s speech yesterday. I tried to intervene and ask a question under the “Blue Card” rule. But the newly elected President of the parliament, German MEP and former Commissioner Antonio Tajani (whom I have quoted so often) decided that in the interests of timekeeping he would take no Blue Cards in the debate.

    A poor second-best, but I decided to write to Mr. Weber later. I thought you might be amused to see my e-mail.

    Dear Manfred,

    Today you spoke in the debate on the outcome of the European Council of December 15th, and you made some comments about Brexit. You said that the EU was at heart a Common Market, and you understood that Britain wanted to leave this Common Market, but then to agree a new trade deal that effectively brought it back in. You added that therefore you could not understand whether Britain wanted to leave the EU or not.

    I am sorry that you found our Prime Minister’s speech of yesterday so difficult to follow. For myself, I thought it had exemplary clarity. She said that we will leave the EU. We will leave the Customs Union and the Single Market. We will be a fully independent country (like most countries in the world). We will not be subject to free movement, or European Law, or the European Court, and we will not pay into the EU budget (unless voluntary agreement is reached between the UK and the EU on specific and limited programmes). She also made it clear that as an independent country we would seek to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU.

    You will be aware that the EU has existing free trade agreements with close to fifty countries around the world. And apart from the special cases of Switzerland and Norway, none of these agreements involves free movement, or EU budget contributions, or subjection to the European Court and European law. I believe that Mrs. May envisages a broadly similar deal for the UK.

    Do you clearly understand that these countries with which the EU has free trade deals – Korea, for example – are not in any sense members of any common market, or of the EU Single Market, or of the EU Customs Union, or indeed of the EU itself? You know, for example, that there is no free movement agreement between the EU and Korea? Do you in fact understand the difference between a Free Trade Agreement, and membership of a common market? And if you do, why do you feel any confusion about the UK’s position?

    Best regards. ROGER HELMER MEP http://www.rogerhelmermep.co.uk

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