In her speech on Florence yesterday about Brexit, Theresa May made a telling reference to a recent speech by Jean Claude Juncker.
The prime minister said that it was “an exciting time for many in Europe” as Mr Juncker, the European Commission president, “set out his ambitions” for the EU. He called for a streamlining of it and reforms such as a new finance minister.
This ambition shows why Brexit was a more coherent position for the UK than the stance of David Cameron. The then prime minister wanted EU reform in the other direction to Mr Juncker.
The UK was already outside the euro and had other exemptions, yet wanted to be on an even more remote tier.
The EU expanded so fast as to become unwieldy. There are strong arguments for a smaller, more tightly bonded EU, perhaps synonymous with the eurozone.
Such an entity might one day succeed or might one day flop but Britain was always going to be outside it.
Mrs May spoke warmly of the EU but said the UK “never totally felt at home” in it.
She confirmed the UK will leave the single market and customs union. Leaving the latter lets the UK strike its own trade deals but makes the Irish border trickier.
How that will be resolved remains unclear, but any solution that moves the border to the Irish Sea or creates a special status for NI that diminishes our place in the UK must be rejected.