AMID the utterly pathetic, sorry chaos of the Conservative Government’s Brexit drive, currently being obsessively pursued by Boris Johnson, there has been a strange amount of talk this week about “hope”.

It is not a word you hear a lot in the context of Brexit, nor should it be.

The Brexit push is an ideological one. It represents economic vandalism, before and after actual departure, and is to the detriment of society.

For many of the more extreme Brexit supporters among the electorate, the desire to leave the European Union is rooted in an unsavoury form of British nationalism that encompasses xenophobia and an intolerance of immigration. A form of nationalism that is blinkered to the huge economic contribution of the many talented and hard-working people who have moved to the UK to make their lives and pursue careers here. Such ideology is a destroyer of hope.

The odd, fleeting glimmers of hope there have been over the last three years or so on Brexit have been generated by signs that maybe, just maybe, the Brexiters might yet be forced to abandon the whole folly of leaving the EU. Such hope, sadly, has been thin on the ground recently, with Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson making a lot of sensible anti-Brexit noise but seemingly shutting down far too many options in terms of effective cross-party cooperation to actually put an end to this mess.

In the meantime, we have had Mr Johnson’s adviser, Dominic Cummings, putting about the “Get Brexit Done” mantra, as if this were a mere formality to get over and done with, and one without any consequences.

The reality is that the act of “getting Brexit done” would mark the start of the real trouble for the UK. Of course, if there were a transition period, there would be a bit of a delay before the worst effects came through, and you could imagine Messrs Johnson and Cummings might look to use this period to claim that nothing much had changed. That would only be because the big changes would occur at the end of the transition period.

The “hope” being touted this week related to elevated expectations that Mr Johnson would be able to strike a deal with our long-suffering EU neighbours. An agreement between the UK and EU was finally announced yesterday morning.

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We had briefings on every cough and splutter of the negotiations. All the while, it was difficult to escape the notion that the negotiations were, from the UK side, aimed at delivering an outcome that achieved some glossed-over presentation of the reality of measures to deal with the thorny Irish border issue.

It has been a tortuous week, amid an at-times almost-hysterical focus on the negotiations, notably by some pro-Brexit media outlets. For days, utterances from Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster have been studied in greater detail than former footballer Eric Cantona’s seemingly philosophical quote about the seagulls.

The pound has surged this week amid the growing “hopes” of a deal, although economists polled by Reuters continue to see a further delay to Brexit as the most likely option, whatever Mr Johnson says about an October 31 departure.

Yesterday morning, we had Mr Johnson on Twitter proclaiming a “great new deal that takes back control”. The DUP swiftly put a bit of a dampener on his proud proclamation by declaring they could not support the deal. The pound, having spiked on news of the deal, then retreated somewhat.

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Attention will now focus on what Parliament as a whole will make of what Mr Johnson believes is such a great deal. Given his general blustering approach to things, it is difficult to imagine Mr Johnson portraying any big deal he had done as anything other than “great”.

But here is the thing: with the intense focus on whether or not there will be a no-deal Brexit, there is a danger that many have lost sight of the distinction between a hard and soft Brexit.

If the UK leaves the EU and a no-deal departure is avoided, this does not mean that Mr Johnson (or whoever delivers it) has not visited a hard Brexit upon the people.

The departure from the EU that Mr Johnson envisages, and indeed the type of exit that his predecessor Theresa May pursued unsuccessfully, is a hard Brexit. It involves leaving the single market, and clamping down on the very immigration that helps maximise the UK’s economic potential and fund public services through taxes paid.

The UK Government’s own analysis, we should remember, shows a very significant economic cost from leaving the single market.

As well as the foolishness of the planned clampdown on immigration, the Conservative Government also seems to think it is wise for the UK to leave the powerful EU trade bloc at a time of fierce and growing global protectionism.

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Of course, a no-deal Brexit would be more chaotic in the short term, with a grave danger of a UK economy that has already ground to a near-halt tipping into recession, before the protracted, grinding damage ensues. So, understandably, reduced fears of a no-deal Brexit tend to boost the pound. It is also worth contemplating where the pound might be if there were no Brexit at all. Sterling, which was last night trading around $1.2850 after being briefly close to $1.30 on the deal news, remains far adrift of the near-$1.50 levels at which it traded on June 23, 2016, ahead of the EU referendum result.

It should be evident not only to the economically literate but to anyone with the first clue of Brexit realities that Mr Johnson has not delivered any kind of hope with his EU deal.

Messrs Johnson and Cummings will no doubt keep banging their political drum about focusing on the National Health Service and schools once Brexit is sealed, and their acolytes will lap it up.

However, deal or no-deal, we must remember that a hard Brexit in any form will involve a long, grinding loss of economic growth over years and decades, greatly hampering living standards already reduced by Tory austerity. Such real-world effects are often forgotten by the Brexiters in their ideological fervour.

Many of those who will be affected most – some of them people who feel left behind and have been hammered by Conservative austerity yet were persuaded by right-wing Tories that it was somehow the EU’s fault – will be the keenest Brexiters.