IF the UK economy ran on bad ideas, poor decision-making and ridiculously pointless statements such as Boris Johnson’s “oomph” remark this week, it would surely not be in the sorry mess that it is.

The Prime Minister’s Trump-like ebullience contrasted with a measured, fact-based and serious assessment on Monday by Confederation of British Industry director-general Carolyn Fairbairn of the damage already being done to Scottish companies by the Brexit saga and of what a no-deal departure would mean. She also spelled out why we should still fear medicine shortages in a no-deal scenario.

The European Union this week knocked back Mr Johnson’s big Brexit demand that the Irish “backstop”, a “temporary” customs union aimed at avoiding a hard border, be removed from its draft withdrawal agreement with the UK thrashed out by Theresa May during her drive for a hard (but not disorderly) Brexit. It was a cold and flat refusal made in no uncertain terms and with speed, and European Council President Donald Tusk noted a lack of “realistic alternatives” from the Prime Minister. Mr Johnson, seemingly favouring a more jingoistic and populist approach, responded: “I’m going to go at it with a lot of oomph, as you’d expect, and I hope we will be making some progress in the course of the next few weeks.”

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Really? That’s the strategy? A garbled list of vague alternatives to the backstop spouted by Mr Johnson as he responded seemed highly unconvincing, as did his attempt to paint German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s remarks this week flagging a lack of time as an open door for renegotiation. The Hallowe’en deadline Mr Johnson has pledged will apply to Brexit is scarily close.

Promises of “oomph” are likely to be very cold comfort indeed to many businesses, of all shapes and sizes, that will be increasingly alarmed by Mr Johnson’s Brexit brinkmanship. Imagine a chief executive telling his or her board that the key ingredient of a strategy would be “oomph”.

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So that covers the ridiculously pointless statement. But what of the bad ideas? Well, there is Brexit itself, which is both a bad idea and one that has included plenty of poor decision-making. The Conservatives have left us spoiled for choice when it comes to bad ideas and poor decisions. Take austerity – it has and continues to choke off UK growth and hammer the living standards of millions of people in the UK. It was doing so even before former prime minister David Cameron’s ill-judged decision to hold a referendum on EU membership in the first place.

What is more, the bad ideas, sadly, just keep on coming. One-time Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, the hammer of welfare, has come up with a real doozy. A think-tank co-founded by Mr Duncan Smith – incidentally some might think its Centre for Social Justice name is laughable but not in a funny way – has proposed the state pension age rises to 70 by 2028 and 75 by 2035.

Given Mr Duncan Smith is a driving force behind the Centre for Social Justice, we should not be surprised that this is all about saving money. Maybe the money saved if this diabolical proposal were to be adopted could be used by the Tories to cut corporation tax still further or reduce the tax burden for the highest earners? After all, these are two of the key policy planks of Tory policy in the last decade, and neither appears to have done anything to boost the economy or benefit society.

Or maybe the money will be mopped up to pay for the carnage of Brexit – this cost will obviously be particularly high if the no-deal version that Mr Johnson apparently sees no problem with is the outcome.

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Of course, many top Tories, and a large number of Conservative voters, will not need to worry about state pension age. They will have family wealth or big private pension provision, or both. To them, the state pension would be pin money anyway and would not in any way dictate the age at which they could retire.

But what kind of society are we living in when someone is not entitled to claim a state pension until they are 75? This would mean many, many more people would not live long enough to see a state pension, a problem likely to be exacerbated for some if they are forced to work beyond what is an acceptable age. Hopefully, there are not Tories out there who might view this grim proposal to hike the retirement age dramatically as the first step towards abolition of the state pension.

The point is often made that it is good for some older people’s health if they continue to work. Of course, they should have the option of continuing to work, but this must be a choice. It must not be forced by proposals that would, for millions, make poverty the alternative if they do not work until 75. The Tories would, instead of giving house room to these nonsense pension proposals, be better employed focusing on trying to fix the huge problems they have created with the economy with their ill-judged policies and spending some time unpicking their Brexit shambles.

On Brexit, the Conservatives could, given some of them may even still view their party as the champion of business after nearly a decade of economic mismanagement, look at the impact of mere anticipation of a no-deal Brexit on companies.

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Ms Fairbairn, who warned a no-deal Brexit was “extremely possible”, has been touring Britain this week to learn more about these effects. After meeting CBI Scotland members in Glasgow, she told The Herald: “I think one of the things that was most striking [is] many businesses are being affected now by the heightened risk of no-deal.” She flagged the example from the Glasgow meeting of a high-end manufacturer, with an 85 per cent market share globally, that was already losing share to a Japanese competitor because of Brexit uncertainty. Ms Fairbairn added: “There were other members who expressed the same concerns – that Brexit was causing them to lose global market share [and] it would be very difficult to claw back.”

Mr Johnson might want to reflect on this, and on these companies’ stated worries of even worse to come in the event of a no-deal Brexit, rather than rambling on about “oomph”.

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The clock is ticking and millions of households, as well as many thousands of businesses, are ever-more anxious not just about the current damage but also about a post-Brexit future. Frankly, Mr Johnson’s loud but insubstantial talk about progress in “the next few weeks” does not, to use a phrase he has adopted in the past, cut the mustard.