Ministers are putting migration control above access to the single market. What Brexit means is beginning to take shape

Theresa May freewheeled through the opening weeks of her premiership. She was fortunate to enjoy a combination of a summer recess, post-referendum political fatigue and feelgood Olympic distraction. Decent economic numbers, Labour divisions and the Tory party rallying behind her have helped too. With her own generally sure-footed approach, these have all ensured that she has enjoyed, if not a honeymoon, then certainly a relatively easy start. A new Guardian-ICM poll showing the Conservatives with a comfortable 41%-27% lead over Labour means Tories will feel they have made the right choice and are on track.

Today’s cabinet meeting at Chequers marked the restart of traditional politics after the break. It began with a choreographed reminder that this government has so far offered Potemkin village politics. With her ministers around the table, Mrs May made a version of her stock summer speech about Brexit meaning Brexit, no second referendum being possible and the importance of this being a country that works for everyone. Ministers made approving noises to show their loyalty and agreement. But it was all for the cameras and all largely meaningless.

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