British Prime Minister Theresa May's “Brexit means Brexit” is a simple, powerful slogan that sends a clear, unmistakable message to all who are hoping for a reevaluation of June's referendum result: the UK will be leaving the EU. But what does that mean?
LONDON – “Brexit means Brexit,” Theresa May, the United Kingdom’s new prime minister, insists. It is a simple and powerful slogan that sends an unmistakable message to all who have been hoping for a reevaluation of June’s referendum result. The UK, it seems clear, will be leaving the European Union. But that is where the clarity ends.
When Charles de Gaulle stood on the governor’s balcony in Algiers on June 4, 1958, he told a crowd of French Algerian settlers, “Je vous ai compris !” (“I have understood you!”). Within a few years, he would negotiate Algerian independence, infuriating those same settlers. “Understand,” it turned out, did not mean “sympathize.”
May’s favorite sound bite could be similarly misleading – a possibility that has not been lost on her Conservative Party’s pro-Brexit right. Does the “Brexit” of which May speaks entail the kind of “hard” departure from the EU that many, if not most, “Leave” supporters want, or will she pursue a softer approach?