GENERALLY given a good Press, Theresa May’s Big Brexit Speech was pitiful. For starters, it seemed aimed more at the EU than Mrs May’s home audience – us. "Meet us half way on Brexit, May urges EU," read one headline. A more apt word than "urges" might have been "pleads", or even "begs".

The headline in this newspaper singled our Mrs May’s final invocation: "Let’s get on with it." Once again this was clearly addressed to the EU. "Getting on with it" is what most of the 17.4m who voted Leave in the referendum, clinching victory in Britain’s biggest-ever electoral turn-out (because every vote counted equally) have been aching for since the morning after the referendum.

But for more than a year, Mrs May, a Remain voter let us remind ourselves, showed no inclination to "get on with it". Since then she has been blind to the intransigence of the EU.

She might well have started her speech by pointing out that the UK is not attempting to escape the EU. It has simply activated the EU’s own means for a nation state to leave. Unlike the rigmarole of most EU rules and regulations the Article 50 that triggers a resignation is little more than a simple statement that the two sides will endeavour to find a solution that satisfies both.

Since the EU enjoys a trade surplus with Britain logic suggests it would wish trade to continue much as before. But – and this is Mrs May’s apparent blind spot – it has been clear from the start that the EU is prepared to cut off its nose to spite its face. It is less concerned to defend the interests of its 27 member nations than to pursue its goal of a superstate. To this end the UK must be punished, to deter any others who might be tempted to take the same path.

While the EU hasn’t given an inch, we have offered a divorce settlement and refrained from initiating trade deals elsewhere – neither required under Article 50. Nor is a transition period, during which we will accept most EU rules while having no say. Mrs May could have used her speech to affirm, a la Margaret Thatcher: “No, No. No.”

Let me quote what a highly-respected international figure, Steve Bannon, a former White House strategist, has to say about Britain’s treatment by the EU: “Brussels has been vicious and dismissive. The contempt it has shown for the mandate of the working men and women of Great Britain is nothing short of shocking. They haven’t accommodated anything but have made everything as tough as possible.”

Sadly they are aided by forces here – John Major and Tony Blair for two, not overlooking former Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg, who last week vowed: “We are going to stop this thing, just watch.” I like to think a second referendum would deliver a bigger "Up Yours" than the first. The Danes, the Irish, the French and the Dutch (all nations required either to reverses an anti-EU referendum or whose similar vote was ignored) might be putty in the hands of the political elite. But we are of sterner stuff, aren’t we? Churchill’s “fight on the beach” speech is much in the air right now. That should have been Mrs May’s inspiration.