For Florence read Munich. Theresa May’s sell-out to the bully-boys of Brussels, behind a smokescreen of rhetoric and cliché, was comprehensive and disgraceful. For the occasion, the “Strong and Stable” slogan had been replaced by a new trilogy displayed behind the podium which read: “Shared History, Shared Challenges, Shared Future”.

Indeed. Shared History (Agincourt, Trafalgar, The Somme, El Alamein); Shared Challenges (uncontrolled immigration, Brussels red tape, EU accounts rejected by auditors for twenty years), Shared Future (departure from EU in 2019 followed by business as usual under Brussels control).

One – and only one – sentence of the Prime Minister’s speech rang true, when she said that the EU “never felt to us an integral part of our national story”. The rest of this kitsch oration was a shameless betrayal of that sentiment. May’s delivery was the exaggerated animation of a school drama mistress; once or twice the Joyce Grenfell parody became embarrassing. She exuded insincerity, but that is only to say she is a politician.

She paid tribute to Michel Barnier, the French thug who has been beating up Britain on the world stage and reiterating that the clock is ticking while impeding real negotiations. She insisted “we have made concrete progress on many important issues” (such as whether or not to open another window in the conference room?). Theresa No-Mates wants to walk “hand-in-hand with the European Union”: if you want to take Guy Verhofstadt’s hand, Theresa, you must be pretty desperate.

In a tribute to her hosts Mrs May reported that Britain is cooperating with Italy over the migrant crisis, without adverting to the fact it was caused by Angela Merkel, the Empress of Europe. There was, of course, the ritual guff about climate change, about “values” (i.e. the PC prejudices of the precariously ruling elites), and about an impending “imaginative and creative” new relationship with the EU. If there are two terms one least associates with the dying Brussels leviathan they are “imaginative” and “creative” (other than in an accountancy context).

Yet it would be completely wrong to suggest this speech lacked substance. On the contrary, it had plenty of red meat in it – for the EU nomenklatura. Behind the lifeless rhetoric hacked out by panda-eyed speechwriters in multiple drafts during the small hours, the drumbeat of surrender was relentless.

An open Irish border was the earliest concession, mapping out a route – the Maghreb, Sicily, Dublin, Belfast, London – that would endure perpetually and make a mockery of borders control painfully negotiated elsewhere. Then she committed the UK to “unconditionally” guarantee the security of Europe; this was May, the skilled diplomatic poker player, throwing her ace onto the floor. On future UK-EU trade relations there will be “no need to impose tariffs”. What a nice lady.

She was also concerned that EU member states might feel a bit strapped for cash after Britain, the longstanding milch cow, departs on 30 March 2019. Not to worry. The UK will continue to pay up, even after it has left the EU, on what appears to be the same terms as before, though without any say in drafting EU laws and regulations. Unfortunately Theresa’s compassion does not extend to British taxpayers.

Baldrick’s cunning plan, as shadily outlined by May, runs as follows. Britain will definitely and assuredly leave the EU at the end of March 2019. That is supposed to reassure Leavers who, by now, constitute around 80 per cent of the electorate. We can have celebratory parties, fireworks, bonfires topped by the loathsome EU flag. Then, the following morning, through our hangovers, we shall dimly perceive the Promised Land of post-Brexit Britain.

It will find us still members of the economically damaging Single Market and the EEA, still under the jurisdiction of the European courts, still shelling out billions a year in contributions and with no control of our borders as immigrants continue to enter at will. The only matter of substance that will have changed is that we shall have no say at all in any laws, regulations or policies the EU adopts and we may be sure they will bleed us white for as long as they can. This is a Brexit that Gina Miller could enthusiastically support.

This transition period – now, for presentational purposes, renamed the “period of implementation” – will not last for ever, Mrs May explained reassuringly. So, how long will it last? She thought “around two years”. We may be confident, however, that the Brussels apparatchiks, allied with their fellow travellers in the Treasury and King Charles Street, would find grounds for an extension of that period.

Theresa May’s vision of Brexit that emerged in Florence was of Britain remaining de facto a non-voting member of the European Union for an indefinite period. By her own fudged estimate we shall occupy that paralysing position at least until 2021, by which time two general elections will have taken place since the Brexit referendum. This is not what 17.4 million British electors voted for in June 2016.

We should have been out of the EU by now – should have left, in fact, late last year. We should never have gone down the Article 50 road; it is a trap whereby vengeful Brussels apparatchiks humiliate us in front of the world and rob our taxpayers blind. There is no need for a “period of implementation”. Business has known since June 2016 that we are leaving the EU. Any business that cannot adjust between 2016 and 2019 will fare no better in 2021; in fact, the delay can only induce complacency and inertia.

It would be easy to cry, “May must go!” as indeed she should; but to what purpose? To give place to forsworn, opportunistic Boris who is complicit in the Florence sell-out? Or any member of the Conservative Party that imposed a Remainer to oversee Brexit? Or the Trotskyite car-crash that is the Labour Party? The problem is not Theresa May: the problem is the system. The House of Commons is an irrelevance to the people of Britain today. It exists only to obstruct the public will, as it has done since 1965 when a cross-party consensus abolished capital punishment against the overwhelming desire of the public to retain it.

Soon we shall see the spectacle of the Entitled Ones on the slime-green benches shredding and obstructing Brexit legislation, followed by the mimic “peers” – former social workers and quangocrats tricked out in an ermined parody of the great men of the past – wreaking further havoc. The anger of the British people is slow to kindle but implacable when finally provoked. By 2021 things may be very different from the future that Theresa May assumes, after a general election that may be unlike any other in British history. Theresa May hoisted the white flag in Florence. How much longer will the British tolerate their global humiliation at the hands of the traitorous political class?