AS Theresa May has continued to flounder on Brexit, while trying to signal she is in control with an analogy between her prospects and Liverpool’s amazing comeback against Barcelona, it has been left again to Jean-Claude Juncker to provide the astute observations.

The European Commission President has again got to the heart of the matter with some pithy declarations, ranging from revelations about his regrets to a particularly humorous aside about the baffling behaviour of the UK Government on Brexit.

All the while, Mr Juncker appears to be taking a philosophical approach to what happens with Brexit, which is not surprising given the various twists and turns that European Union leaders have had to put up with as the Conservatives’ internal squabbling rages on unabated.

Mr Juncker on Tuesday highlighted his regret at having listened to former prime minister David Cameron by not intervening or interfering in the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

He declared: “It was a mistake not to intervene and not to interfere because we would have been the only ones to destroy the lies which were circulated. I was wrong to be silent at an important moment.”

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Tuesday also saw the European Commission publish its latest economic forecasts. These underline the hit to business investment in the UK from continued uncertainty arising from the Brexit vote, both in terms of the major damage done on this front already and projections that there is no end in sight.

The European Commission highlighted “markedly” slower UK growth of just 1.4 per cent in 2018 and projected expansion would “remain subdued” over the forecast horizon, with expansion of 1.3% this year and the same again in 2020.

And, noting UK business investment had in 2018 fallen for four consecutive quarters for the first time since 2009, it observed: “Continuing uncertainty about the UK’s future relationship with the EU27 means that business investment is likely to remain weak.”

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Highlighting another major challenge for the UK in terms of the global growth outlook, the European Commission declared: “With external demand moderating, net trade is not expected to contribute positively to GDP growth.”

This paints a picture very different to that held up by those arch-Brexiters, nostalgic for days of Empire, who seem to view the UK as an utterly irresistible source of goods and services for countries around the globe, regardless of the impediments to trade created by exiting the EU.

For her part, the Prime Minister, who has this week faced intense speculation over her future, continued with her broken-record, war-of-attrition approach on the Brexit front, while also resorting to a particularly tortuous analogy with its roots in Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final victory.

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Responding to a quip from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Mrs May declared: “I actually think that when we look at the Liverpool win over Barcelona...what it shows is that when everyone says it’s all over, that your European opposition have got you beat, the clock is ticking down, it’s time to concede defeat, actually we can still secure success if everyone comes together.”

As well as being excruciatingly elaborate, Mrs May’s analogy is very curious on several fronts. Curious even in the context of the Alice in Wonderland situation in which we have found ourselves since Mr Cameron’s ill-judged decision to have a referendum on EU membership backfired so spectacularly.

The reference to the EU as the “opposition” does not seem correct, and it is certainly not constructive. This description becomes even more ridiculous when you consider the extent to which the UK economy and society have benefited from EU membership. And still more so when you reflect on the Westminster Government’s own forecasts showing that every single EU exit scenario will damage UK economic prospects.

It gets curiouser and curiouser when you get to Mrs May’s comment that “we can still secure success”.

Again, Mrs May continues to pander only to the Leave voters, given that either all or the vast majority of Remainers would surely not regard any form of Brexit as “success”. And the Prime Minister’s definition of “success” is doubly puzzling, if you go back to the UK Government’s own forecasts that leaving the EU under any circumstances will damage the economy. Such damage affects the living standards of the electorate.

Mrs May’s draft withdrawal agreement with the EU, which we must remember represents a hard Brexit that ends free movement of people between the UK and countries in the bloc, would on the basis of these forecasts have a major detrimental impact on the economy.

We have heard a lot again this week about potential for a Brexit deal compromise between the Tories and Labour around including continued customs-union membership, with a suggestion any such arrangement might not even be permanent.

While helping address the need for frictionless trade, mere continued customs-union membership does not prevent the main Brexit damage from loss of single-market participation. It is crucial the electorate does not confuse the two things.

Scotland, which voted to Remain, and other parts of the UK depend for future economic prosperity and living standards on a continued strong flow of net immigration from other EU countries, and this free movement comes from single-market membership. The people moving to the UK from other EU countries to work are not just crucial to economic growth but also to tax revenues and supporting an ageing population.

There seems to be a justified and large degree of exasperation among EU leaders as they try to fathom what the UK wants to achieve with Brexit. It has been a long haul, so we should not be surprised that Mr Juncker is taking a philosophical approach.

“Either they will stay or they will leave,” said Mr Juncker. “If they stay, they stay; if they leave, they leave.”

One of Mr Juncker’s shrewd observations this week, although it was made before Mrs May’s Liverpool analogy, could be well applied in the context of the Prime Minister’s puzzling definitions of “opposition” and “success”.

On the topic of how Europeans talk to each other, Mr Juncker quipped: “Nobody understands England, but everybody understands English.”