THERESA May will tour the United Kingdom from a position of surprising strength as one-year countdown to Brexit, and Britain’s departure from the European Union, begins.
Her critics said she wouldn’t be able to trigger Article 50. She did. They said she wouldn’t conclude the first phase of negotiations with the EU. She did. And they said that she would be unable to strike a deal on transition arrangements. She did.
Mrs May is showing remarkable resilience for a Prime Minister who was characterised as “a dead woman walking” – and worse – by George Osborne, the former Chancellor. Even though she’s bereft of a Commons majority, she’s showing steadfastness.
This is reflected by her rapprochement with EU leaders. They no longer shun Mrs May. Instead they now appear to respect Britain’s premier and backed her tough stance towards Russia after the nerve agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
And, while Brexit will pose many pitfalls in the year ahead, some more unforeseen than the current dispute over fishing rights, it’s increasingly inconceivable that the June 2016 referendum result will be reversed – even Jeremy Corbyn sacked a Shadow Cabinet Minister last week for endorsing a second vote.
In this regard, the Government needs to work tirelessly to resolve outstanding issues, not least Northern Ireland’s border arrangements, so the UK’s transition is as smooth as possible. All residents and businesses, irrespective of their Brexit stance, deserve this at the very least.
Yet it would help if the Tory party in particular stopped using pejorative terms like ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit to define the stance of individuals – what Britain expects of Mrs May is the best Brexit possible, one that puts the national interest first and which enables Parliament to regain its sovereignty while pledging to work with the EU on issues of mutual benefit like defence and security co-operation.