Brexit pp 125-194 | Cite as

Brexit Means Brexit: Squaring the Circle

  • Rudolf G. Adam


On becoming Cameron’s successor, Theresa May faced an unenviable task. She had to make sense of the referendum result and translate the people’s vague negative feelings into a concrete political programme that would be acceptable to a majority in Parliament, to the EU leadership, and to her EU colleagues. Cameron had forbidden any contingency planning. May needed to put together a cabinet that balanced the warring factions within her party. She had to formulate coherent, realistic goals and she had to develop a tactical concept, a timetable, a list of priorities and an eventual quid pro quo in negotiations. Above all, she had to build consensus within her cabinet and within her party about what Brexit was to mean. She failed to grapple with any of these challenges. Instead she repeated the vain formula ‘Brexit means Brexit’, which obfuscated the problem. She committed herself prematurely and without adequate reflection to a hard Brexit. In March 2017, she submitted the declaration under Article 50 that set the clock running. A snap election deprived her of her comfortable majority. In the summer of 2018, she published her first coherent but unrealistic concept of Brexit. Opposition within her own party grew steadily, and she lost almost half of her cabinet. The Withdrawal Treaty was approved by all EU members on 25 November 2018 but was thrown out by a majority in the UK Parliament on 15 January 2019.


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Further Reading

  1. Bogdanor, V. (2019). Beyond Brexit: Towards a British Constitution. London: I. B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  2. Crace, J. (2017). I, Maybot: The Rise and Fall. London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
  3. Ross, T., & McTague, T. (2017). Betting the House: The Inside Story of the 2017 Election. London: Biteback.Google Scholar
  4. Shipman, T. (2017). Fall Out: A Year of Political Mayhem. London: Collins.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rudolf G. Adam
    • 1
  1. 1.Prien, ChiemseeGermany

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