May’s speech does little to inspire hope

Even if you recognise that British prime minister Theresa May is as much a stranger to the kind of charisma that often supports good leadership as her foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, is to integrity, it is, on a human level at least, not

too hard to have some sympathy for her.

Even someone with the wisdom of a King David would struggle to reconcile the extremists who have captured her party and the views that prevail in a less spittle-flecked bubble. She does not, especially as she wished to remain in the EU, have an easy job.

However, that empathy must be informed by the reality of the unavoidable train accelerating down the tracks.

This time next year — March 29 — Britain is to quit the EU but her speech yesterday did little enough to encourage the hope that the collateral damage that will provoke has been taken into account or even widely understood in Britain.

Her suggestion that any new hard border would come about only because the EU might insist on one is as close to what might be called BoJo fantasy as she has sailed.

It is a dishonest evasion and one Mrs May surely understands.

The essential truth, that unless Brexit ambitions are modified a hard border is inevitable, is at best fudged or ignored.

A charisma deficit is one thing but fantasies like this suggests Mrs May leadership is undermined by something far more unattractive and sinister — especially as it seems to contradict the position agreed on a border just last December.

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