WHILE she might have made her position clearer, Theresa May showed in her Lancaster House speech that she is not done with her dance of the seven Brexit veils just yet. The Prime Minister knew she was speaking to several audiences, tailoring her message and sending her signals accordingly.

For many listeners, what she was describing was a flexi-Brexit, one that would leave her enough wriggle room to change her stance as she goes. Yes, the UK would be leaving the single market because to stay would mean accepting the free movement of people, goods, services and capital. But the UK would also want to put in place a “bold new free trade agreement”. Yes, the UK will not be seeking “full” membership of the customs union.

But that leaves the door open to do deals for certain sectors. Equally, the days of “vast” contributions to the EU were over. But the UK may yet cough up for some things under a pay-as-you-go arrangement. Yes, immigration had to be controlled. But as to how, that was still up in the air.

So far, so woolly; not for the Scottish Government, though. To Scottish ministers, this was not so much a flexi-Brexit being described as a restraining order that was being issued. Clad in her favourite tartan trouser suit, the one she wore to launch her leadership campaign, Mrs May made clear that she really did mean something when she spoke of a red, white and blue Brexit. Hers would be a Brexit clad in the Union flag, one that placed the preservation of “our precious Union” at its heart; in short, no staying in the single market for Scotland on Mrs May’s watch; no Norway-style, joining the European Economic Area, set-up; and no taking control of immigration.

The Prime Minister has done a Margaret Thatcher with the Scottish Government and said “No, no, no”. It is a long way from the crudeness of “Up yours, Delors”, being more of a “No, sorry Nicola” but the message from Downing Street is clear: a majority in Scotland may have voted to Remain but the UK as a whole opted to Leave and Leave is what the UK as a whole will do. As Mrs Thatcher never said, one out, all out.

The displeasure was etched on Scottish ministers’ faces yesterday as they gathered to condemn Mrs May’s approach. In this they were joined, in spirit at least, by Peter Mandelson, among others, with the Labour Lord telling the BBC’s Today programme that Mrs May had chosen to “appease” the Eurosceptics on her back benches and in the press. Lord Mandelson and Mike Russell, Nick Clegg and Nicola Sturgeon. What strange bedfellows Brexit has brought together. It is not just the new alliances that raise an eyebrow. The language and concepts being deployed are sheer, through-the-looking-glass stuff.

Here was a Tory prime minister fundamentally opposed to independence for Scotland who is arguing for independence for the UK. “We seek a new and equal partnership,” said Mrs May, “between an independent, self-governing, global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU.” Substitute Scotland for Britain and UK for EU and one would not be a hop, skip and jump away from an SNP declaration.

On the whole, Mrs May had the air of a gay divorcee, a woman who had already raced ahead and put all that nastiness of the split with the EU behind her. Speaking at a lectern with the words “A global Britain” written on the front, she presented a vision of a country that had not voted to leave the EU because it was a collection of little Englanders who thought there were too many foreigners around.

No. This Britain had voted to “embrace the world”. Far from wanting to pull the drawbridge up and rewind the clock to 1950, we were desperate to grab our passports and go out into the world of the future. Still in gay divorcee mode, she expressed her desire to remain friends with the EU.

We were leaving the EU but not leaving Europe. It wasn’t our fault, their fault, it was just the way things were. That said, she made it clear that she could yet cut up rough with Brussels if it wanted to impose a “punitive” deal on the UK. That would be “an act of calamitous self-harm”, bringing all sorts of consequences in its wake. The EU 27, another of the audiences tuning in yesterday, will not take kindly to that.

For now, she has done enough to satisfy the Eurosceptics on her backbenches and around the Cabinet table. As for the meeting tomorrow between UK ministers and their counterparts from the devolved administrations, you can file that one under A for awkward straight away. Where stands the Scottish Government and its red lines on Brexit now?

Mrs May mentioned the Scottish Government’s proposals for staying in the single market but it is hard to see that paper as anything other than shredded. One wonders why the Prime Minister, so careful to assign herself wriggle room, gave not an inch to the Scottish Government. The two sides are die-hard opponents on every issue but even so, she did not seem interested in sugaring the pill much. There wasn’t much negotiating flair in evidence.

It could just be that she cherishes Scotland and its place within the Union so much that she simply could not countenance a future without us and had to make her affections clear. A less romantic reading of the situation is that she is telling the Scottish Government to get back in its box and not make trouble once the negotiations start. Why else put in such extraordinary lines as, “This is not a game or a time for opposition for opposition’s sake”? In other words, it would be positively unpatriotic for people to complain or faff around when there will be enough of that going on when she comes to sit down with the 27.

This would be blah-blah from heaven for the Scottish Government if not for one thing. The First Minister has made clear, has indeed pledged, that a “material change” in Scotland’s circumstances or public opinion would trigger a second independence referendum. Mrs May has set out that material change. The UK, with her as Prime Minister leading the negotiations, will leave the single market. Leave means leave.

What does Ms Sturgeon, having ruled out a referendum this year, do now? She could always look ahead to the vote on the final deal which Mrs May has promised Westminster. That could give the First Minister some leverage, but not much. In the meantime, the Scottish Government is faced with two years of asking for things the UK Prime Minister has ruled out. The SNP Government’s holding position yesterday, as it has been for some time, was to say Mrs May’s speech had made a second independence referendum “more likely”. But there are only so many degrees of likelihood, so many times one can use the L-word, before it loses whatever potency it has. Ms Sturgeon needs a new song, soon.