The most important words May will ever deliver?

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Media captionThe prime minister declined four times to answer questions about when she had been aware of the "misfire'"

Under the gilt and candelabra of Lancaster House where Margaret Thatcher extolled the virtues of joining the single market, Theresa May has uttered some of the most important words she will ever deliver.

She has, for the first time explicitly, confirmed that she has decided not to try to preserve our membership of the European single market. Instead she is hoping to conclude a deal with the rest of the EU that will still give business the access it needs to trade with the rest of the continent without barriers, tariffs or any new obstacles.

Since the referendum she and her ministers have simply refused to be so explicit. Some Remainers have argued that she ought to try to keep us in the vast partnership, the risks to the economy are too vast, and while it might be complicated to achieve, the prize is simply too great to give up.

For months some ministers have privately whispered about complex solutions that might keep elements of membership, the choices not being binary, mechanisms that might give a sort of membership with a different name.

Well no more, the simple and clear message from Theresa May's speech is that we are out. The irony that she has delivered that vow on the same spot where her predecessor swore the transformative value of the single market hangs alongside the glittering chandeliers

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