IT was billed as the speech that would bring clarification, once and for all, of what “Brexit means Brexit” actually means. And there was no denying that Prime Minister Theresa May’s keynote speech in London yesterday certainly provided a clear outline of her government’s proposed direction of travel.

Any last gasp hopes of a “soft” Brexit were finally snuffed out: cracking down on immigration is the UK Government’s top priority and in light of this the UK will be leaving the European single market. The country will, however, be seeking “the greatest possible access through a new comprehensive and bold free trade agreement”.

We will also be leaving the customs union, Mrs May said, the EU’s common trading area that allows goods to circulate freely without tariffs, adding that she will expects any agreement to allow tariff-free access to EU markets and a special deal for the City of London to be able to continue to provide financial services across borders. Sector-by-sector deals for other industries will also be sought.

The Prime Minister also confirmed that there would be no “partial” membership of the European Union: she ruled out the sort of deal Norway enjoys as part of the European Economic Area, which requires not only a financial contribution to the EU, but also a commitment to the free movement of people.

And, in a surprise move that suggests she already knows the Government will lose its appeal in the Supreme Court, both Houses at Westminster are to be given a vote on the final deal.

So, at least we all know where we stand, right? Wrong, and therein lies the rub: the proposed direction of travel may be clear but since the speech failed to address many key questions, what Brexit actually means for the economy, jobs and the constitution remains fundamentally unclear.

The first big unknown is around how the EU will respond to Mrs May’s speech, especially the part where she warned member states against a “punitive” stance, claiming it would lead to “calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe” adding this would not “be the act of a friend”. One can only imagine the guffaws of ironic laughter in the corridors of Brussels at that one. It’s hard to imagine Chancellor Merkel and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker putting Mrs May’s rather arrogant “you need us far more than we need you” message above the needs of the under-pressure European project as a whole. Indeed, some would say the “hard” Brexit outlined yesterday by Mrs May gives the EU carte blanche to deal ruthlessly with UK demands for tariff-free access to markets. We will no doubt find out in the weeks and months to come.

The other big unknown is, of course, around the UK constitution. Despite warm words about working with the devolved administrations to deliver a “Brexit that works for the whole of the UK”, there was no mention of a deal that would allow Scotland, which voted by 62 per cent to 38 per cent to remain in the EU, to stay within the EU single market. Experts at the independent Fraser of Allander Institute recently reported that a “hard” Brexit would cost the Scottish economy £8bn over 10 years and lead to the loss of 80,000 jobs. Clearly, a fragile Scottish economy that is still struggling to recover from the shocks of 2008 and lags behind other parts of the UK can ill afford such losses.

Mrs May talked yesterday of putting the “preservation of our precious Union at the heart of everything we do”, but without addressing the Scottish dimension with sensitivity and pragmatism it is hard to see how this can possibly be the case. Make no mistake, the Prime Minister’s speech sets her on a collision course with the Scottish Government.

Nicola Sturgeon responded by calling plans to leave the single market “economically catastrophic” and accused Mrs May of bowing to pressure from the extreme right of her party. It was indeed notable that Ukip responded positively to much of the content of the Prime Minister’s speech.

The First Minister warned that a “hard” Brexit meant a second independence referendum was now “more likely”, but gave no hint of when this may take place. Indeed, earlier this month she ruled out a vote in 2017 after a poll in Herald suggested the majority of people in Scotland were opposed.

Whether Scots will change their minds on this now they know for sure the UK will not be remaining in the single market remains to be seen – clearly the timing of any new independence vote would depend on any upsurge in support that may result from the prospect of a hard Brexit. It may also depend on whether Ms Sturgeon believes there is a realistic prospect that Westminster would vote down a Brexit deal. Labour’s position on Brexit has been weak and confused to say the least.

“Brexit means Brexit”, then, remains an unclear statement. And, following Mrs May’s speech, it is now arguably more concerning than ever before.