ONE thing that has not commanded nearly enough attention since last week’s General Election result is the plain and simple fact that people have voted to enable wilful damage of the UK economy through the deliberate act of Brexit. By natural extension, they have also voted for their living standards to be diminished.

Those former Labour voters in the likes of the north of England who backed Boris Johnson and his “Get Brexit Done” mantra are likely to be among those hardest hit. That is to say that most of those who believe they have been left behind are likely to experience a huge intensification of this feeling after even just a little while of being disadvantaged by the policies of Mr Johnson and his Government.

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The crux is that much of the blame for these voters’ justifiable annoyance at being left behind lies at the door of the Conservatives, past and present.

It was, after all, the Tories whose economic policies hammered so many communities dependent on heavy industry through the 1980s and early 1990s, while championing the City and broader financial services sector and fuelling the yuppie boom.

This is another plain and simple fact. But it is one that seems to have escaped many of the voters who have switched allegiance because of a new-found passion for Brexit, a zeal which seems for large numbers of those old enough to remember to have overshadowed memories of the Margaret Thatcher era. This is puzzling, as is the continuing lack of awareness that these voters’ recent undoubted problems are as a result of them having been most unfairly hammered by Conservative austerity.

Communities across Scotland have also been hit very hard by Tory policy past and present. However, thankfully there seems to be a greater awareness in Scotland of who has been to blame over past decades, and in more recent years for austerity and Brexit woe. Mr Johnson was given short shrift by most voters in Scotland, as demonstrated by a plunge in the number of Tory seats. And the SNP, which has tried to combat austerity with limited powers, reaped the rewards of its anti-Brexit drive.

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After a respite from Tory Westminster rule in the form of New Labour, which enabled impressive economic growth accompanied by desirable and successful efforts to get money to the poorest in society, those people who feel left behind have, like many others, been hammered for nearly a decade now by Tory austerity. Yet the Tories persuaded many of these voters south of the Border the European Union was to blame. Sadly, these people will now realise the truth.

If the discourse since the election is anything to go by, there still seems to be a total lack of awareness of what people have signed up for by backing Mr Johnson.

And there will be many Remainers who will be well aware of the reality and will have put it to the back of their minds. Who can blame them? After all, it seems there is not much Remainers can do now.

The reality, of course, is that leaving the EU under any scenario other than remaining in the single market will hit the UK economy very hard indeed.

Those who would argue that black is white on this issue might care to reflect on the fact that this assessment chimes not just with the views of myriad economists but also with the UK Government’s own forecasts under Theresa May. And Mrs May was, at the time, trying to propel the UK along a path to a hard Brexit that involved leaving the single market.

Mrs May could not get her withdrawal agreement through Parliament.

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But now Mr Johnson, who like Mrs May faced the commendable and sensible opposition of Parliament for a while, has the size of majority that makes such a hard Brexit look inevitable.

It was interesting to note that the business community had, ahead of last week’s General Election, appeared to resign itself to Brexit being a done deal. There even seemed to be a message coming from some in the business world that somehow just getting on with Brexit, even though the majority of company leaders opposed the move in the first place, was better than continuing uncertainty.

Sometimes it is good to get uncertainty out of the way. But surely not when the path to be followed certainly involves damage. In this case, the uncertainty is better than the actuality. At least it keeps alive the prospect of something different.

In any case, the real uncertainty is only just beginning. And the UK is taking a grim road at a time when its economy is already struggling very badly.

A key reading this week revealed the UK private-sector economy is shrinking at the fastest pace since July 2016, with manufacturing output tumbling and services activity recording straight monthly falls for the first time since 2009 as the Brexit issue weighs. Manufacturing production volumes have plunged at the fastest pace since July 2012 so far this month, amid export weakness.

The flash UK composite purchasing managers’ index, compiled by IHS Markit and published on Monday by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, signals the private-sector economy is recording its third monthly contraction in the space of four months in December.

It was difficult to escape the notion, when hearing about the pound’s surge after the exit poll on election night signalling a clear Tory victory, that it would likely not be too long before Mr Johnson would do something that would result in sterling falling again. On Tuesday, sterling saw what was left of its major gains following the revelation of Mr Johnson’s General Election victory wiped out, as the Prime Minister spooked markets with proposed legislation to prevent extension of the Brexit transition period.

The move by Mr Johnson to add a new clause to the Brexit bill to rule out extending the transition period beyond the end of 2020 has understandably reignited fears of a no-deal departure.

We must remember that Mr Johnson’s favoured hard Brexit – leaving the European single market – would be very bad indeed under any circumstances.

The impact would, of course, be worst of all in the event of a no-deal departure.

And it would be folly for businesses, or households for that matter, to underestimate the risk of such a departure, given Mr Johnson’s refusal to even think about extending the transition period.