A YEAR ago, this weekly Called to Account column bore the headline: “Hollow nature of Brexiters’ triumph is emerging”.

The sub-heading read: “2017 set to be stomach-churning as triggering of Article 50 looms”.

While it would not exactly have taken a soothsayer to work out what kind of year 2017 was going to be, the headline and sub-deck told it like it has turned out.

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And the really big problem for the UK is that, as we look ahead to 2018, the headings could be repeated with only a couple of minor tweaks. These tweaks, unfortunately for the Brexiters, would not be to show any improvement in the situation. After all, anyone with even a passing interest in the Brexit fiasco knows there has been no such improvement in the outlook.

Rather, as projected in this column a year ago and at various other points, the UK’s economic situation has deteriorated very significantly in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Anyone who is unconvinced by this assertion, or just wants to argue against it for the sake of it, need only look as far as the projections of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) at the time of Chancellor Philip Hammond’s November 22 Budget.

So, looking ahead, we could, if we wanted, declare: “2018 set to be stomach-churning following triggering of Article 50”. And we could say: “Hollow nature of Brexiters’ triumph becomes ever clearer”.

A year on, the big Brexit issues remain the same, and, crucially, they are still unresolved. All the while, the clock continues to tick loudly.

The inevitability of the UK Government’s lack of progress during 2017 was clear a year ago, given the shambles that had prevailed since the Brexit vote in June 2016.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, last week summed up the situation well, although perhaps in a slightly understated fashion, by declaring that the UK was “already losing out” because of the Brexit vote.

It certainly is. And, with this effect almost certain to continue for many years, the ultimate hit to the UK economy from Brexit will be colossal. There is an inevitability about this now, which the Brexit camp refuses to acknowledge. But surely even the arch-Brexiters will be able to acknowledge it with hindsight, many years from now, obviously when it is way too late.

As predicted a year ago, UK households are already being squeezed hard by the surge in inflation arising from the pound’s tumble in the wake of last year’s Brexit vote, which has pushed up import prices.

Against a weak and uncertain UK economic backdrop, many employers are not in the mood to award decent nominal pay increases.

So, overall, pay is falling again in the UK in real terms, compounding the strain on households and finances from years of public sector cuts and pay caps, and from savage welfare reductions.

Commenting on the UK’s dismal growth so far this year, the IMF observed: “Growth in the first three quarters of 2017 was slower than a year ago.”

While citing a strong recovery in global growth, the IMF said of the UK: “The impact of the decision to exit the European Union has weighed on private domestic demand.”

It also cited above-target inflation and the likelihood of “further pressure on real wages and private consumption”.

While noting support to UK exports from “strong global growth”, the IMF cautioned that “firms are likely to continue deferring some investment decisions until there is greater clarity on the UK’s future trading relationship with the European Union”.

It also warned that “a breakdown in discussions could lead to a disorderly exit from the EU and sharp falls in asset prices”.

So, plenty to worry about.

The UK economy is already in woeful shape, even before we get to the grim and potentially terrifying consequences of actual Brexit.

In November, the OBR cut its UK growth projections sharply and hiked its forecasts of public sector net borrowing. The Brexit vote figured significantly in the OBR projections.

UK growth is now projected by the OBR to slow from 1.8 per cent in 2016 to 1.5 per cent this year, before decelerating to 1.4 per cent in 2018. It is then forecast to slow even further, to 1.3 per cent in 2019.

Growth is projected to be just 1.3 per cent again in 2020, before picking up only modestly to 1.5 per cent in 2021 and 1.6 per cent the following year.

When it comes to the UK’s impending departure from the European Union, you get the impression that the Conservatives and most of the Brexit camp continue to fail to grasp the gravity of the situation.

This notion was certainly reinforced with the trumpeting last week of the news that UK passports would be returning to an “iconic blue and gold design”. Hardly iconic, it might be worth noting, but the much bigger issue is that, in the context of the huge problems being created by the move towards Brexit, choosing the colour of the passport is just not a priority.

Worryingly though, like the Crown stamp on a pint glass, the colour of the passport seems to be the type of thing that stokes up the English or British nationalist fervour of some of the Brexiters.

And, sadly, there is no sign the year ahead will be any less demoralising, given the prioritisation of utterly meaningless English or British nationalist trivia over the substantial economic and societal issues of Brexit by those in power, as they pander to the noisy section of their audience.