The whole of Mrs. May’s speech is an implicit recognition that Brexit has the real potential to inflict disastrous economic and political damage on the United Kingdom.
To minimize the risk of this disaster, the British state is condemned to many years of back-breaking negotiations with possibly unsympathetic partners to create an elaborate network of regulatory alignments, mutual recognitions, agency memberships, legal consultations, sector-specific arrangements and parallel standard-setting.
This work will take a period certainly comparable to that taken to negotiate the Free Trade Agreement with Canada and probably longer. It will for many years to come dominate the administrative and political resources of the British state, and may well create severe regional and constitutional tensions within that state.
The end-state of these negotiations is in its details unpredictable, but its most favorable conceivable outcome is an economic relationship with the EU noticeably less favorable than the one now enjoyed by the United Kingdom.