IT was no surprise that relief was what jumped out from business organisations’ responses to Theresa May’s announcement on Wednesday night that the draft Brexit agreement with the European Union had been approved by her Cabinet.

After all, the no-deal exit that so excites the arch-Brexiters would likely bring on recession. And no one wants that, neither businesses nor the households throughout the UK which have had to, and continue to, endure savage Tory austerity.

What eventually happens with the Brexit agreement is anyone’s guess. In true Conservative Government style, the Cabinet’s agreement was followed fairly swiftly by the revelation that Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Dominic Raab had resigned. This is the man who was responsible for negotiating a Brexit deal. At the same time, it could be said that you could not make this up and that it is entirely predictable, given the extent of the chaos so far.

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One thing that can be said with certainty is that the UK economy is in grim shape. The Conservatives’ attempts to revive the economy were always doomed to failure given they chose a huge giveaway to big companies through corporation tax reductions while taking money out of the pockets of ordinary people who might have spent it, through cruel welfare cuts, public sector pay freezes, reductions in tax credits and changes to child benefit.

It was inevitable that the recovery promised by the Conservatives – who astonishingly seem to continue to get away with pointing the finger disingenuously at Labour for a 2008/09 recession that was actually brought on by the global financial crisis – would not materialise.

And of course as if all of this were not bad enough, former prime minister David Cameron appeared to prioritise Conservative Party infighting over the good of the country by calling a referendum on EU membership.

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The rest, as they say, is history.

The Brexit vote, of course, has dragged down the UK economy’s performance even further. And the UK now finds itself in a horrible predicament. The UK Government continues to refuse to see sense and abandon the Brexit folly.

And the prime minister is determined not to stay in the European single market.

The UK Government has, over an extraordinarily long period of time, led us all to the no-deal Brexit abyss and let us have a look into it.

So it is no surprise that business organisations would be relieved by anything which might take us back from the drop.

You get the impression that many in the business community are just desperate to have confirmation of the 21-month transition period following the Brexit date of March 29 next year. During this transition period, they would be able to get on with their business unimpeded by Brexit in terms of frictionless trade, but would obviously continue to suffer from the plunge in net immigration from other EU countries which has occurred since the Leave vote.

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It is understandable why businesses would seize on anything that put off for a while longer the awful day on which the full horrors of Brexit take effect.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether we actually avoid the cliff-edge. Mr Raab’s resignation yesterday was followed by the departure of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey. Also submitting their resignations were Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara and junior Brexit minister Suella Braverman. Amid this fiasco, a no-deal outcome remains a grave danger.

On the other hand, given the human capacity for hope, it is difficult not to cling on to the pleasant thought that the whole Brexit drive might yet fall apart and we end up staying in the EU, although this is probably still a long shot.

Amid the tumult yesterday, the Financial Conduct Authority said it was in regular contact with financial companies as shares in UK banks tumbled on the back of the intensifying political shambles fuelled by the raft of resignations following Cabinet approval of the draft Brexit agreement.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, declared on Wednesday night that business communities across Scotland and the UK would welcome the Cabinet-backed draft Withdrawal Agreement. She noted the length of time it had taken to get to this stage – observing it was nearly two-and-a-half years since the Brexit vote.

However, she warned it would “remain a long journey”. Yesterday’s resignations and chaos underline the fact that the journey will not only be long but also shambolic, entirely in keeping with the Conservative Government’s track record on the Brexit front up to this point.

Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, also highlighted the length of time it had taken to get to the stage of having a draft agreement approved by the Cabinet, while welcoming what he believes is “clear definitive progress”.

He said: “Business leaders have been desperate for this stage of the negotiations to reach a conclusion.”

Mr Martin’s comments should leave no one in any doubt about just how desperate business is to avoid a nightmare no-deal scenario.

He said: “We urge all politicians to think long and hard about how they react to this first-stage agreement. Leaving the EU without a deal is a very bad outcome for businesses, workers and consumers, and this is simply an inherent risk that comes with voting down any withdrawal deal.”

This brings us to the root of the problem now.

There are understandable fears about it being this deal or no deal. However, it still seems odd that it has to be this way. We should be in no doubt that Brexit will be hugely damaging under any scenario, with the least-bad option of remaining in the single market having been ruled out. We should not forget that, while businesses might be relieved to see a deal, most still expect Brexit will do them significant harm.

When a grave error has been made in choosing a path, whether by countries, institutions, companies or individuals, the rational thing to do is abandon the course of action.

We have heard Conservatives talk a lot about working in the national interest. How about they work in the national interest and fathom out the least-harmful way of abandoning the Brexit folly altogether?