PASSING a poster in a central Paris metro station advertising LES FAUX BRITISH Une vraie comédie catastrophe, at the Théâtre Saint-Georges, it was impossible to see anything other than a Brexit metaphor.

The ‘H’ was falling off the end of “BRITISH”. There was a sword stuck in a burning armchair. One leg was off the armchair, which had a spring coming out of it and was propped up with some books. A side-table was also missing a leg, and was thus balanced about as precariously as the Conservative Government.

This poster, advertising a theatrical production originally titled The Play That Goes Wrong, seemed to depict very well indeed the chaos caused by the UK electorate’s ill-judged Brexit vote. And by the UK Government’s bloody-minded determination to drag the country out of the European Union, regardless of the consequent myriad and major calamities.

The play, of course, has nothing to do with Brexit. It is about seven lovers of English noir novels who decide to create a show when they have never been on stage. It is set about a century ago, albeit this is a period that some Brexiters appear to hanker after.

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That said, it was not just the poster that seemed like it could just as well be applied to a calamitous farce about the UK’s Brexit drive.

The Google-translated synopsis of the production, on the theatre’s website, reads: “Our brave ‘one-night comedians’ will soon find out the hard way that theatre requires a lot of rigour. Despite all their good will, disasters will follow each other at a furious pace. In this merry disorder, our Faux British, armed with the legendary British phlegm, will do everything to interpret as worthily as possible this theatrical thriller that is so close to their heart.

“What is certain is that the spectator will never stop laughing at such a succession of British!”

It is certainly the case that, since the June 2016 Brexit vote, it has been one shambles after another for the deeply divided UK Government as it has staged its Brexit drama.

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If you had been watching events unfold on the stage, but not in real life, you might have had a bit of a laugh about it, although it could still have proved cringeworthy. And the arch-Brexiters, you would imagine, would in this context be viewed by the audience as something of a laughing stock as events unfolded.

There has certainly been plenty of drama. We have had a Brexit campaign that did not look credible in any way but was nevertheless enough to produce a vote to leave the EU. Then there was the sudden departure of some of those fronting the Brexit campaign from the limelight as soon as the result was out. And the squabbling among the Tories. And the exasperated EU seemingly trying to ascertain for longer than it would like what in fact the UK was aiming to achieve through Brexit.

We have also seen Prime Minister Theresa May postponing the planned vote in Parliament on the draft withdrawal agreement hammered out between the UK and EU, with defeat looking inevitable.

The problem is that this is not a humorous, slapstick play. Rather, it is a very serious matter for the UK’s economy, and society.

The UK economy has already been hit hard. It was in bad enough shape before the Brexit vote, following around six years of entirely misdirected and very harmful austerity from the Conservatives.

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However, even the most die-hard Brexiter should surely struggle to argue that it has not taken a lurch for the worse since.

Under-pressure households have had further misery heaped upon them by the surge in inflation arising from sterling’s post-Brexit vote weakness and the consequent impact on real-terms pay. Businesses, entirely understandably, are holding off from making investment decisions until it becomes clearer what on earth a post-Brexit UK might look like. Consumers are, rightly, nervous.

Of course, many Brexiters will no doubt continue to argue that black is white, and that the UK economy is doing just fine. And they will do so in spite of all the expert analysis to the contrary, and the welter of forecasts of dismal UK growth.

The UK Government’s own forecasts even show Brexit will take a hefty toll on the UK economy. Its predictions acknowledge that, if Mrs May’s deal were to be accepted, Brexit would still have a very significant impact on the economy.

A no-deal Brexit would be swiftly calamitous, various experts including those at the Bank of England have signalled. Like the armchair catching fire. The deal on the table, which involves the UK leaving the European single market and ends free movement of people to and from other countries in the bloc, would have a less dramatic but still very major effect on the UK economy over the years and decades ahead.

Even though the Brexiters have failed singularly to deliver on the promises they made to the electorate about what could be achieved in a world in which the UK were not in the EU, some of them still seem to believe their own stories of bright times ahead. However, you only have to look at currency markets to see how the world regards the UK’s economic prospects post-Brexit.

Sterling dropped sharply last year. Having finished 2017 trading around $1.35, an already lowly level, it closed at around $1.28 on Hogmanay, as the UK’s peculiar Brexit farce continued. Sterling, which was trading at around $1.50 just ahead of the result of the Brexit vote, closed at $1.2632 last night in London.

The pound has also plunged against the euro. The single currency, worth less than 77p on June 23, 2016 before the Brexit vote result, traded above 90p yesterday.

Back in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron has certainly not had his troubles to seek with a wave of protests in the capital and across the country over his policies. Security was tight in the French capital amid the new year celebrations. And President Macron, whose popularity ratings have plunged, delivered a robust message to the “yellow vest” protestors in his new year address.

However, the challenges faced by his country are surely much less daunting than those the UK Government and population at large will have to deal with over coming years and decades as the economy struggles and living standards are eroded much further still. Unless, of course, someone sensible changes the script and halts the Great British Brexit farce.