If Theresa May was as confident of anything as the resounding, glorious victory and three-digit parliamentary majority coming her way last Thursday, it was the meaning of Brexit. It meant Brexit, she kept telling us, over and over again, an article of faith for a prime minister who was at least nominally opposed to the idea of Brexit before Brexit but who now had special insight into the meaning of Brexit, to wit: It means Brexit.
Alas, along with her authority, self-confidence, 13 colleagues and the support of her party, the certain meaning of Brexit—called by others the “hard Brexit,” i.e., no single market, no customs union, leaping off a cliff and seeing what happens—has collapsed and evaporated in the wake of her non-glorious technical victory. Maybe the very same voters who narrowly backed Brexit last year might have had somewhat different ideas of what Brexit could mean. Maybe it could mean unmooring the British Isles from the European continent and setting them adrift somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, where no Polish plumber could ever find them again. But maybe it could also mean staying in the single market and not committing economic suicide.
In her new position of openness to ideas from outside her inner circle—imposed from outside of that circle by some very angry Tories who don’t understand how they could have lost seats to Jeremy FUCKING Corbyn and been forced to go cap-in-hand to some homophobic religious lunatics to stay in power—May is going to consider some of those ideas. Of course, that means that maybe she won’t be quite ready to lay out to her soon-to-be-former European colleagues what, exactly, Brexit means now a week from today.
David Davis, the minister overseeing Britain’s exit from the EU, told Sky News that talks should start some time next week. “My permanent secretary is actually in Brussels today talking to them about the details. It may not be on the Monday because we’ve also got the Queen’s Speech that week and I will have to speak in that and so on.”