Words matter. When Theresa May said, "Brexit means Brexit", her message was crystal clear. Or was it? Remainers said it was vague, leavers felt it was a clear commitment to leave the EU and its associated bodies. The question is, what did she really mean and did that famous phrase belie her true intentions? Are we actually staying in the EU in all but name?
The devil is in the detail - or lack thereof. I believe that Theresa May's speech writers knew what they were doing when they wrote the phrase, 'Brexit means Brexit'. They didn't write a detailed speech because the Prime Minister didn't want to leave herself hostage to fortune. There was an implicit message of a clean break, no questions, no haggling, no fuzzy grey area: full withdrawal. But, in politics, nothing is implicit when everything is open to interpretation. Remainers have spent 2017 arguing that nobody knows what Brexit actually means. I suspect the Prime Minister understood that side of the argument a long time ago.
In her Florence speech the Prime Minister confirmed that the UK would leave the customs union and single market. Now, as we approach the end of the year, it is becoming clear that whilst we are indeed leaving those bodies, we will become part of a newly formed 'bespoke' deal that leaves us fully aligned with the single market and customs union.
It is likely that the Prime Minister will deliver more speeches in 2018, promising everything leave voters wanted. But, her smart writers have proven that when Theresa May promises one thing, she may well mean another.
Whatever Brexit means in the Prime Ministers mind, it doesn't seem like much of a Brexit after all.