IF Boris Johnson’s setpiece speech on Brexit was supposed to reassure Remain voters who remain fearful for the future as Britain prepares to leave the European Union, it achieved the precise opposite.
Mr Johnson appeared, on occasion, to be more intent on rerunning the 2016 EU referendum rather than providing businesses, and wealth-creators, with the clarity that they require so urgently.
Though his tone was more emollient, the referendum rifts will not be bridged until there is a definitive trade policy in place which can then be used to underpin domestic policies like migration.
Yet the fact that this was the first of six major speeches due to be delivered by Cabinet ministers suggests that Theresa May has been unable to unite her own top team as the next negotiating deadlines with the EU approach.
This was illustrated by Mr Johnson’s awkward – and non-committal – response when asked if he would quit this year if there continued to be the close alignment between Britain and the EU that is being advocated by, amongst others, Philip Hammond, the Chancellor.
This reaction reaffirmed the view that the Government is still trying to make sense of this upheaval when it should, by now, be far more advanced with its plans. And why isn’t it? Brexiteers like Mr Johnson won the referendum without having to offer a workable plan of their own.