GIVEN the appallingly comprehensive post-Brexit vote shambles, there was always a fair chance most leaders of businesses and other organisations in Scotland would respond firmly in the negative when asked whether the UK Government is doing a good job in the ongoing European Union negotiations.

So it should almost go without saying that this was indeed the result when more than 100 leaders, of businesses, public sector, third sector and social enterprise organisations in Scotland, were asked this question, posed by The Herald, last week.

But what was astonishing about their response, even in these strangest of days, was that fully 90 per cent responded “no”, when asked: “Do you think the UK Government is doing a good job with its Brexit negotiations?”

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The other 10 per cent of those polled, at the Institute of Directors in Scotland’s annual conference at Gleneagles, said “yes”.

Given that personal political views and perspectives can probably sometimes influence such responses, whether sub-consciously or not, the strength of the result from business leaders is even more remarkable. After all, the Conservative Party does tend to tout itself as the one for business. And, over years and decades, business leaders have as a group appeared to favour Tory policies, albeit those in Scotland have almost certainly fawned over the Conservatives far less than their peers in some other parts of the UK.

Now the mood music from many in the business community in Scotland conveys sheer dismay over the Brexit vote, its consequences, and the political shambles that has followed last year’s referendum result and is continuing unabated through the UK’s hapless negotiations.

One headline on Reuters’ financial terminal in recent days summed up the situation rather well: “UK business demands Brexit clarity but May provides none”.

And embattled Prime Minister Theresa May is unlikely to have welcomed comments from Paul Drechsler, president of the Confederation of British Industry, likening the situation to a soap opera with a different episode each week.

It is perhaps more like one of those protracted and often cringeworthy farces for which Blighty is so well known from days of yore.

Unfortunately, whether it resembles a farce or a soap opera or both, we are not, even though it all too often seems a whole lot like it, in the realm of fiction. Even if the Tories are much of the time in fantasy land with their view of the world.

The consequences of the Brexit debacle are already all too real. Inflation has surged because of sterling weakness, and consumers have borne the brunt with renewed falls in real pay. Worried businesses have reined in investment. UK economic growth has slowed sharply. And that is before we even get to the horrors of the actual exit.

Alarmingly, while it is inevitable Brexit will cause major economic damage, the Conservatives seem to be not that bothered at all about trying to mitigate the problems. The best way to limit the damage would, of course, be to preserve as much as possible the trade arrangements and the benefits of free movement of people that European Union membership currently gives us. The optimum solution would obviously be to remain a member of the EU but that, too, almost goes without saying.

Yet, faced with this reality, the underlying message from the Conservatives seems to be that they will, at least just as happily, walk away in a huff to follow the hard Brexit path.

Sometimes, you wonder if this might be a negotiating ploy. Unfortunately, when you watch the pro-Brexit brigade, it seems clear that it is just plain old-fashioned, bloody-minded ideology. These people do not want to listen to economic reality. They do not want any challenge to their out-of-date and out-of-touch views of Britain. At times it seems, sometimes because of vast personal fortunes, they cannot understand the ordinary financial consequences for the general population of economic damage.

It is difficult to escape the notion that Brexit is a great public schoolboy-type “wheeze” for some of those insulated from, and seemingly oblivious to, its consequences.

One of the grave results of the Brexit vote, which is manifesting itself already, is a shortage of skills and labour for companies in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK. Such shortages will, of course, damage the broader economy and standards of living. It is not as if this huge issue should have come as a surprise to the Brexiters. If they were to take a good look around, or even a cursory glance would probably do it, they could see the importance of overseas workers to the UK economy across a whole raft of sectors.

Another question posed by The Herald at IoD Scotland’s annual conference last week went as follows: “Do you believe the Brexit vote is creating, or will create, difficulties in terms of companies’ ability to recruit necessary staff from other European Union countries?”

The response was even more dramatic than the answer to the first question, with 92 per cent of delegates replying “yes”.

IoD executive director David Watt warned: “IoD members are disappointed in the UK Government’s progress in negotiating Brexit, and have genuine concerns about the effects on the future labour force in Scotland.”

Urging speedier progress in negotiations by the UK Government so businesses and other organisations can plan, he observed many business people had voted against Brexit, but were “having to face the challenges”.

The Conservatives have never seemed good at listening to the views of the general population. However, they have over years and decades generally pricked up their ears when the business lobby has been making its views known.

What is particularly interesting at the current juncture on Brexit – given this historical perspective - is that the Tories are no longer listening to even the business community.