PERHAPS the only things the UK Government has not been lacking as it lumbers shambolically towards Brexit are hare-brained schemes.

The Government has, on many occasions since the UK electorate’s vote to leave the European Union last June, made Baldrick and Dick Dastardly look like real class acts on the strategy front.

This week, we have had plenty of tub-thumping from the UK Government’s Brexit squad about boosting trade with Qatar.

Maybe we should be thankful that this notion was not predicated on the idea of a new yacht for Blighty touting the UK’s wares anywhere in the world, apart from the European Union, where buyers might be found.

Rather, in what looked like a desperate and bombastic effort to appear to be doing something ahead of Wednesday’s triggering of Article 50 to start the terrifying two-year Brexit countdown, the Conservative Government announced greater trade finance to support UK firms trying to export to Qatar.

Does the UK Government, including Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, actually believe this week’s move to boost exports to Qatar is actually a big deal? Really? Then again, when it comes to Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May and her Cabinet ministers have not exactly been backward in coming forward with sales pitches.

Mrs May has, on occasion, appeared to signal a belief that Brexit might actually be good for Scotland. You cannot imagine that many of the significant majority in Scotland who voted to remain in the EU, whether they are for or against independence or undecided, would believe this could possibly be the case.

Persuading any significant number of Remainers that Brexit is a good idea would surely be a pitch that would be beyond Shelley “The Machine” Levene, portrayed by the late, great Jack Lemmon in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, when this veteran salesman character was in his prime.

In the real world, staying in the EU would be good for Scotland and the rest of the UK. All that Mrs May and her Government can hope for now, in a Brexit deal, is damage-limitation.

Unfortunately, in this context, what is clearly still lacking from the UK Government is any sign of any kind of credible plan to limit the damage. Rather, we have had statements that seem to indicate a damage-maximisation course.

It speaks volumes that much of Mrs May’s message this week has not been about trying to come up with some kind of explanation of how on earth Brexit could possibly make things better for people. Rather, we have had a lot of talk about how everyone, Brexiters and Remainers, must join together in a common cause as the UK Government negotiates with our EU neighbours.

Surely such Stepford-style compliance would be counter-productive. After all, the UK Government must be held to account, by the electorate at large and the likes of the business community, as it endeavours to strike a Brexit deal.

The business community has essentially the same concerns about Brexit as it did before the EU referendum. These are simple enough to understand. There is a desire for continuing free trade with EU countries. Not surprisingly, Mrs May’s pre-emptive declaration that the UK will not be part of the single market in the wake of Brexit has understandably rung alarm bells on this front.

It is all fine and well targeting new markets but the UK Government really must focus on preserving what it has, in terms of the country’s huge amount of exports to other EU countries.

If it is foolish enough to jeopardise these exports, you can be sure that an increase in trade with Qatar is not going to foot the bill for such stupidity.

Another crucial issue for businesses in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK is continued access to workers from other EU nations.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors this week warned the UK’s predicted £500 billion infrastructure pipeline could be under threat, with about 176,500 workers from other EU countries comprising eight per cent of the UK’s construction workforce. RICS said: “A loss of access to the European labour market has the potential to slowly bring some of the UK’s biggest infrastructure projects to a standstill.”

A survey this week showed a growing proportion of technology firms north of the Border, 73 per cent, expect to recruit the majority of new staff from within Scotland, compared with 60 per cent in 2016. And the survey, published by industry body ScotlandIS, showed nine per cent of businesses forecast new talent will come from outside the UK, down from 21 per cent.

We should worry about the reasons for the second of these projections.

ScotlandIS chief executive Polly Purvis put it thus: “This is likely to be a sign of Brexit-related concerns, and the decreasing attractiveness of the UK for international talent.”

This should fuel fears about skills shortages in the Scottish technology sector, and many other industries.

This does not just apply to indigenous Scottish companies looking for staff. If Brexit means people from other EU countries choose to leave, or are not able to stay here on terms that they feel are acceptable, this will also make Scotland less attractive to inward investors looking for locations offering a well-qualified potential workforce of sufficient size to meet their ambitions.

The same issues apply to other parts of the UK, not just Scotland.

The grim realities of Brexit, for businesses and the economy, have not changed. Unfortunately, there has been no change either in terms of an absence of assurances on the key issues from the UK Government, or even a commitment to make sure that free trade and movement of workers, rather than populist flimflam, will be top of the agenda for negotiations.

Instead, we hear a lot of noise about a cunning plan to boost trade with Qatar, or whatever other non-EU destination takes the UK Government’s fancy in any given week.