When Theresa May stood in front of 10 Downing Street yesterday, it was as if she had played no part whatsoever in calling the General Election.
This is the speech she should have made:
I have just been to see Her Majesty the Queen. We discussed the state of our country in the wake of the outcome of the General Election. We agreed that today the country appears more divided than ever – between young and old, between north and south, between rich and poor. I admitted that the General Election had only widened those divisions.
Calling the General Election was, in hindsight, a mistake. Eight weeks ago it felt the right thing to do. I had hoped it would strengthen my hand in Brussels as we try to establish the best Brexit deal for Britain. Having weighed up all the facts, on 18 April I made what I thought was the best decision possible. That is all a human being can do.
The last eight weeks have been, ultimately, an unnecessary distraction from preparing for the challenge of Brexit and for that I take full responsibility. I apologise to you, the British people.
And now I want to look forward, to re-establish some certainty in our country.
As a nation we face significant challenges. We have to do all we can to improve our economic prospects. We have to ensure that our public services, such as health and education, are properly resourced. We have to combat the growing terrorist threat. Most pressingly and most importantly, we have to negotiate Brexit.
We have a moral obligation to our future generations to do all we can to secure for them a safe and prosperous nation.
We need to re-unite our United Kingdom.
Through the democratic process, the British people have signalled, quite clearly, that they do not trust any single political party to lead our country in these uncertain times.
The will of the people must be observed. It is time for us to stop political gameplaying. In fact, it is time for all the political parties – Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens, and our compatriots in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – to come together to work for the common good.
Over the next few days I will be meeting with the leaders of the main political parties to establish a cross-party commission to prepare for the Brexit negotiations. We will go beyond Westminster and ask our country’s best minds to help us.
I welcome Michel Barnier’s reassurance that ‘Brexit negotiations should start when the UK is ready’. We will accept the offer implicit in his words and postpone negotiations for a month so that our cross-party commission is thoroughly prepared to begin talks.
This will allow us to come together as a country and channel our energies towards a successful Brexit deal that works for everyone in this country – securing a new partnership with the EU which guarantees our long-term prosperity.
That’s what people voted for last June.
That’s what we will deliver.
Now let’s get to work. Together. A United Kingdom.