Westminster View

The Prime Minister’s pragmatic speech last week setting out the ‘hard facts’ of Brexit has again shown she is able to recognise and work towards satisfying the complex, competing demands for what the country actually wants and can achieve from leaving the EU.

And when I say country, I very much mean the UK, its people, countries, business and communities because that is where Brexit will have the most effect, not in the Westminster bubble.

The speech’s clarity has pleased a great many and has been met positively in Brussels. But, as I have said many times, this is a negotiation and no-one gives away all their hand in a negotiation and no-one gets all they want.

The five tests spelt out in the speech are a very good framework to make sure we keep to what is needed for the UK and the EU to succeed in the talks.

In brief they are: respect the result of the referendum, take back control of borders, laws and money, find an enduring deal, protect jobs and security and finally, strengthen the UK.

To go into further detail on what this means, for example, with regards to the European Court of Justice, Northern Ireland and how much we continue to pay into EU institutions requires far more space that I’m afforded here, but what this speech does show is that the reality for everyone is simply this: no-one, not leavers, not remainers, not the Government, not the EU, not business is going to get everything they wanted and that’s the 'reality' the PM gave in the speech.

What is up for grabs is the best possible deal with the best possible goodwill and compromise from all parties to get that deal done. Some simply go on about this is impossible or that cannot happen and I have to say that is fundamentally incorrect. Everything is possible in Brexit, just as much as it is complex and requires compromise.

Of course, there remains opposition to the Prime Minister’s efforts. Some do it from an ideological zeal to reverse the referendum result, or for some it’s about political opportunism.

I don’t have to name names and it is, of course, the right of any opposition to question the decisions of any government and even be light on the detail to boot. But, to continually twist and turn the message and position to suit the pursuit of power without any principled position on such a fundamentally important chapter in our country’s history is a dangerous policy.

Of course, playing politics isn’t going to stop on any side in this most political of issues, but I hope the PM’s speech at least shows that there’s no cake and eat it, there’s no going back, there’s no second referendum, there’s no perfect solution, there’s nothing that’s impossible; there's just Brexit within the framework tabled above and the best one we can negotiate.