After months of non-stop anti-Brexit stories in our newspapers and soundbites from populist labour politicians, it was inevitable that the government responsible for managing the Brexit process would eventually offer a response.
In the first of many speeches planned by senior cabinet ministers in coming weeks, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was the first to put his head over the parapet.
The message was simple; ‘Brexit can’t be stopped, but we understand your concerns and there’s nothing to fear.’
“I detect a hardening of the mood, a deepening of the anger. I fear that some people are becoming ever more determined to stop Brexit, to reverse the referendum vote of June 23 2016, and to frustrate the will of the people. I believe that would be a disastrous mistake that would lead to permanent and ineradicable feelings of betrayal. We cannot and will not let it happen” he said.
In many senses, this was a reminder of the main leave campaign’s themes – taking back control of UK laws and embracing the world beyond Europe. The response was also a reminder of the pre-referendum shouting match, with supporters cheering and opponents jeering and shouting abuse.
Yet again, opponents have been complaining that the speech contained no detail and amounted to no more than a rough outline of a big picture. Supporters have pointed out that you do not discuss your negotiation plans in the daily newspapers before the negotiations take place.
Boris Johnson made it clear that he opposed sticking too closely to the EU after Brexit, as some politicians would prefer, warning it would be “mad” to go through the Brexit process if we then chose not to take advantage of our recaptured independence.
Continuing to follow Brussels’ rules would be “intolerable”, he added