Let’s not beat about the bush. Brexit has become the madwoman in the country’s attic. Demonised, its spirit crushed, it looms over the UK like Mr Rochester’s wife, Bertha Mason, in Jane Eyre. Of course, Bertha – who sets fire to her husband’s bed and rips up Jane’s wedding veil – cannot be blamed for all the chaos that she causes. A rebellious force of nature, she is driven to insanity by repression and neglect. So, too, has Brexit been turned into a national psychodrama. With no plan to unleash its potential, it can only fester, stoking tensions in Northern Ireland and strangling small firms with red tape.
It is time for the Leave camp to start saying the unsayable: the Tories have made such a hash of Brexit that the project is probably now unsalvageable. Given Labour’s Europhile disposition, the window to lay the foundations for Brexit Britain was always limited to the Conservatives’ current reign. Now the end is nigh, and almost nothing has been achieved.