THE use of language by this Conservative Government when it comes to pumping itself up about its lamentable Brexit crusade becomes ever more remarkable.

It is astounding that it can become even more incredible, but that is the world we are living in.

The big talk of the Tory Brexit brigade was to the fore last week with the announcement of the appointment of former Scotch Whisky Association chief executive David Frost as a Minister of State in the Cabinet Office. Lord Frost was the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, as a huge number of people will know given the protracted and excruciating nature of the talks with the European Union on the country’s future relationship with our long-suffering neighbours.

What was trotted out by Downing Street was that Lord Frost had been tasked with working to “maximise the opportunities” of the EU departure. Yes, surely even relative to the very high bar set already by the Conservative Brexiters, this represents an even more astonishing perspective on the reality of their folly than what has come before.

After all, Lord Frost’s appointment as a full member of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet, effective from March 1, was announced after weeks of turmoil in the wake of the end of the transition period on December 31.

Paul Sheerin, chief executive of Scottish Engineering, has laid out the major everyday problems now facing companies in this crucial sector which have established a healthy export business with EU countries and have, with Brexit, seen this thrown into disarray. As well as the widespread problems now in making these exports, Mr Sheerin has highlighted supply chain woes that have meant a lack of parts and workers having at times to be sent home as a result of this.

He has revealed companies with solid export and import experience have had to seek advice on myriad complex issues from Scottish Engineering.

We have, of course, also seen the huge troubles faced by seafood exporters based in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK and by the food and drink sector more broadly in dealing with a crucial customer base in the EU. And the Great Britain to Northern Ireland trade route has been fraught with difficulties.

HeraldScotland: Boris Johnson Picture: Toby Melville/PABoris Johnson Picture: Toby Melville/PA

All of these woes have come on the back of a trade deal negotiated by Lord Frost, albeit at the behest of the Prime Minister.

In the absence of anything real by way of the Leave camp’s promised benefits – which have failed so spectacularly to materialise – one of the favourite words in the Conservative Brexiter lexicon has been “opportunities”.

However, the statement around Lord Frost’s appointment is particularly remarkable, in terms of both the language used and the context of the post-Brexit shambles. It not only implies the existence of “opportunities”, which certainly remain invisible to the naked eye and seem entirely absent, but talks about the maximisation of these. When it is plain for all to see that all that has been maximised so far from Brexit is damage to households, businesses and the economy.

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Of course, the bizarre claims from the UK Government are perhaps well thought out. And you would think they must take a bit of imagination. After all, it is not every day you have to take something that has turned out to be the disaster it was always predicted by those with an awareness of the realities to be – with much worse to come for struggling businesses and households – and claim it is quite the opposite.

This is all about playing to the gallery. And the UK Government has at times seemed to be as successful on the propaganda front as it has been foolish with its Brexit adventure. Much of the electorate in England seems to be lapping up the British nationalist, anti-European stuff, albeit this certainly does not seem to be playing well for the Johnson administration with the majority of voters north of the Border.

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Even given all we knew about what would surely ensue from the hard Brexit chosen by Mr Johnson and his Cabinet, the extent of the shambles faced by businesses on the exporting front, in addition to their coronavirus crisis-related woes, has been utterly demoralising.

The Conservative Leavers have failed since 2016 to show any meaningful advantage of Brexit, while the negatives have piled up for all to see. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, when presented with some of the woes that Brexit has created, responded by signalling a belief that people should take a 10-year view of this exercise.

Anand Menon, professor of European politics at King’s College London, has highlighted his concerns about what he describes as “gaslighting” by the UK Government on the Brexit front.

He told CNN: “They don’t admit that there’s a problem. They play it down. They say to wait 10 years. Which one is it? Is it all fine or do we need to wait 10 years? And what are the people currently suffering supposed to do in that time?”

Mr Menon sums up the sorry situation very well indeed.

And we should not – when assessing the Conservative Government’s claim that Brexit creates “opportunities” to be “maximised” rather than triggering major damage to the UK economy – forget the forecasts of the hugely negative effects of leaving the European single market.

HeraldScotland: Michael Gove Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PAMichael Gove Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA

While it may seem tiresome to the Brexiters to bring them up again, it is, given the continuing denial of reality, worth setting out briefly the forecasts published by the Theresa May administration, which of course favoured Brexit as a big priority.

These forecasts showed Brexit would, with an average free trade deal with the EU, result in UK gross domestic product in 15 years’ time being 4.9% lower than if the country had stayed in the bloc if there were no change to migration arrangements. Or 6.7% worse on the basis of zero net inflow of workers from European Economic Area countries. It should go without saying that these are huge numbers, but it seems the Brexiters either do not realise this or wilfully choose to ignore this reality. Take your pick. And the forecast based on no change to migration arrangements is sadly now way over-optimistic, given the view of this Conservative Government on immigration and the clampdown it has already implemented on this front.

“Gaslighting” seems an apposite description of the UK Government’s messaging on Brexit.

The “opportunities” word that the Brexiters love so much has of course been engaged in many situations to portray the opposite of the unfolding reality.

Lord Frost, for his part, seems excited by his new role. He has, from an external perspective, appeared to rather enjoy the Brexit drive. Remember how broadly he was smiling when standing behind Mr Johnson late last year, when the Prime Minister signed the agreement which has demonstrated beyond doubt, to the cost of so many, the difference between tariff-free and frictionless trade.

It is interesting to contrast Lord Frost’s enthusiasm for Brexit, and for his new role, with the woes being endured by some Scotch whisky exporters.

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Lord Frost tweeted: “I am hugely honoured to have been appointed Minister to take forward our relationship with the EU after Brexit. In doing so I stand on the shoulders of giants & particularly those of @michaelgove who did an extraordinary job for this country in talks with EU over the past year.”

From the overall context of Lord Frost’s statement, you could certainly hazard a guess that he considers Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove’s “job for this country” on Brexit to be a different kind of “extraordinary” to that perceived by many others.

Lord Frost, it seems for sure, views it as a positive “extraordinary”.

However, Mr Gove was in charge of Brexit preparations. And it is an extraordinary shambles. Remember those adverts urging businesses to prepare for leaving the European single market on December 31 that ran for months? And remember that businesses, and households for that matter, did not know what type of Brexit they were preparing for until after Mr Johnson finally unveiled the narrowest of free trade agreements with the EU on Christmas Eve? We should also bear in mind that the huge friction being endured by exporters is a result of the UK Government’s wilful decision not to accept regulatory alignment with the EU.

It has been mistake after mistake. So in this sense the job Mr Gove has done has been truly “extraordinary” – but not in any kind of good way at all.

As for standing “on the shoulders of giants”, it would be interesting to ask one of the many, many thousands of exporters so negatively affected by the Brexit fiasco just what they think of that. Would it not?