'Well executed' but is this as good as it gets for May? Four PRs on the PM's big speech

PM Theresa May yesterday delivered one of the most anticipated speeches in modern British history, outlining her 12 objectives for negotiating Britain's exit from the EU. Four political comms experts give their view.

May during her first speech as PM (©Hannah McKay/PA Wire)
May during her first speech as PM (©Hannah McKay/PA Wire)

Jo Tanner, director, iNHouse Communications

"For months as the media criticised the lack of Brexit information from Government, I have been saying that the Prime Minister would have a plan. Having worked with Theresa May for over ten years, it was good to see her familiar steely determination and confidence come through as she delivered her speech.

"This was a moment where the Prime Minister stood head and shoulders above her political opponents, both inside her own party and across the political spectrum. The was a well-executed operation, not only in her delivery but in a comprehensively briefed set of principles for Britain’s exit from the EU."

John Lehal, MD, ICG

"The front pages couldn’t look better, Tory MPs have been appeased, and European Governments have overnight welcomed the clarity, but Downing Street will know this is as good as it will get. The EU is focussed on one thing – self-preservation – and they hold the cards, so I can understand exactly why we won’t get a running commentary – the British public won’t like what they are told. The hard work and the bad news starts here."

Stephen Day, COO and head of public affairs, Burson-Marsteller UK

"This was an altogether more considered and more confident message from the Government than the 'Brexit means Brexit' holding position of the last six months. The Prime Minister who, along with her Cabinet colleagues, has caused months of consternation on the Tory backbenches and frustration in Fleet Street by not revealing her hand, outlined the parameters of her stance in the negotiations to come, offering clarity but also delivering a strong rebuke to her critics who sought full disclosure, as she explained (virtually in words of one syllable) why such an approach would be daft.

"May offered engagement with the continent of Europe (not just the EU) and the wider world, but made it clear that Britain was special and different, and expected to be treated accordingly."

Malcolm Gooderham, co-founder, Montfort

"In broad terms, the speech squared the circle of resonating with both party and country. In doing so it strengthened the perception of her as a unifying figure with integrity, who is going to govern on her own terms. And, critically, further confirms she should not be underestimated. The reaction from international media - beyond EU nations - is as positive as it is instructive."

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