Theresa May’s new Brexit soundbite branded ‘jingoistic’ and ‘embarrassing’
The PM has made extra effort to say nothing whatsoever about her negotiating strategy.
The prime minister has prompted scorn and derision from commentators and rival politicians by calling for “a red, white and blue Brexit”.
Theresa May revealed her new slogan as she spoke to journalists in Bahrain, ahead of several meetings with Gulf leaders.
She dismissed suggestions that the government was now considering a ‘grey Brexit’ – leaving the single market with Canada-style bespoke access to parts of the free trade zone, and limits on immigration apart from for skilled migrants in specific sectors.
She said: “I’m interested in all these terms that have been identified – hard Brexit, soft Brexit, black Brexit, white Brexit, grey Brexit – and actually what we should be looking for is a red, white and blue Brexit.”
Having unleashed her soundbite, May added: “That is the right deal for the United Kingdom, what is going to be the right relationship for the UK with the European Union once we’ve left. That’s what we’re about, that’s what we’ll be working on.”
One of the first parliamentarians out of the traps to respond was Tim Farron. The Liberal Democrat leader said: “The prime minister has surpassed herself with this statement. It’s jingoistic claptrap.
“It doesn’t matter what colour she tries to paint this, her plans to leave the Single Market will wreck the economy. If this Conservative government cared about Britain and what makes our country great, they would not be running headlong towards a hard Brexit that will blow a £220 billion black hole in the budget.
“The Union Jack represents an open, tolerant, multicultural Britain, not the narrow-minded vison of UKIP and Farage.”
The Labour peer Lord Wood was equally unimpressed, asking on Twitter: “Has public debate really sunk this low?”
Philip Collins, the Times columnist and former adviser to Tony Blair, said that May needed to up her game on Brexit.
He tweeted: “Theresa May's statements on the EU have become embarrassing. She needs to get more serious, especially if she wants to reveal nothing.
There was no immediate response from Jeremy Corbyn but one of the Labour leader’s biggest supporters in the media, Paul Mason told the prime minister: “You are not really helping us understand WTF you actually want!”
“Whenever you tell a story, you tell a lie.” That’s a great line from the play, and it feels very now.