I DON’T subscribe to Lord Adonis’ view that the BBC has become the “Brexit Broadcasting Corporation”. Most BBC producers are liberal-minded and instinctive Remainers.

But I did think that, like the rest of the media, the BBC news rather soft-pedalled last week’s astonishing U-turn by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s hard Brexiters over their plan B. In short, they bottled it.

For months, we’ve been expecting Rees-Mogg’s Tory European Research Group to produce its radical alternative to Theresa May’s Chequers proposals – a kind of Canada-plus free trade deal.

We’d been promised something that combined all the benefits of being part of the European Single Market with untrammelled freedom to trade with the rest of the world.

But, on the very eve of the publication of their 140-page document, they decided to pull it because, well, they couldn’t agree among themselves.

The document apparently contained bizarre ideas like a Star Wars-style nuclear defence shield in space and a rapid reaction force for defending British interests abroad – presumably in case Michel Barnier decides to annex the Channel Islands.

It also included the proposals by right-wing economists, like Professor Patrick Minford, who want to slash taxes across the board and take an axe to public spending.

In other words, it revealed the Brexiters’ true colours: they want a kind of right wing coup without the tanks. At the eleventh hour, even Jacob Rees-Mogg baulked at revealing this to the British public.

This debacle was in some ways reassuring. It confirmed that the Brexiteers are, if not bat-s**t crazy, then hopelessly divided about what should happen next.

This should have been the moment that the credibility of the entire exercise was finally exposed, and the country mobilised to halt the Brexit process in its tracks.

At the very least, it should have demonstrated that the idea of a no-deal Brexit is utterly discredited – or at least as bankrupt as Theresa May’s Chequers proposals. But the moment passed without any real recognition of its significance.

Of course, it’s not the BBC’s fault that this opportunity was missed, but of the opposition parties.

They didn’t go in for the kill because they don’t have a clue what to do about Brexit either.

Labour still doesn’t know whether it wants to remain in the European Customs Union, and while the trades unions seem to be moving, belatedly, towards the idea of a People’s Vote, Jeremy Corbyn remains implacably opposed.

If Labour can’t make up its mind, it can’t perform the essential function of an opposition, which is to present an alternative to the unthinkable.

The unelected media can’t be expected to fill this leadership vacuum.

It leaves Britain heading for a catastrophic departure from the European Union without anyone doing anything to halt it.

Even the Tory eurosceptics, who got us into this mess in the first place, realise now that the consequences of leaving the EU are too dire even to be discussed in public.

British voters never voted to turn their country, after 30 years or so of creative destruction, into clones of Singapore or Hong Kong.

The entire Brexit project has been discredited.

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, warned last week that a no-deal Brexit of the kind favoured by the right would lead to a financial crash comparable to 2008.

He was joined by Gordon Brown, who was prime minister when Lehman Brothers collapsed, in warning that we could be on the brink of a repeat of the banking collapse.

Only this time, it would not be simply a result of subprime mortgages, dodgy lending and a paucity of bank capital, but because of trade wars, economic nationalism and developments like Brexit.

Both have been accused of being alarmist, and perhaps they are.

There is increasing public resistance to what the Brexiters call Project Fear.

But they are absolutely right to lay out clearly the economic consequences of a chaotic departure from Europe.

As this column has argued recently, many of the warnings about the economic consequences of Brexit, made by Remainers two years ago, have already proved to be justified.

Britain has lost two per cent of GDP since the referendum and that is having an impact across the entire economy, most obviously in stagnating wages.

Department store giant John Lewis’ 99 per cent profit collapse, announced last week, is partly because of competition from the internet, but it is also a direct result of the post-Brexit collapse of the pound and uncertainty.

Jaguar Land Rover has already announced 1,000 job losses and is warning of “tens of thousands” more if Britain leaves the single market without a deal.

However, it is important to remember here that Britain will not be leaving the European Single Market immediately we leave the EU.

Indeed, the UK will remain in the European Union, to all intents and purposes, for some years during the transition period after Article 50 is enacted in March.

Moreover, Michel Barnier is suddenly sounding a lot more positive about securing a deal in six weeks.

This is because there are deals and there are deals.

A deal on Article 50 simply requires a settlement of the £39 billion divorce bill, agreement on EU citizen rights and a settlement of the Irish Border issue.

It doesn’t require a finalised trade deal, only a statement of principles. Thereafter, the UK remains in a transition until 2020 (at least) before any trade deal has to be signed off.

In that period, Britain remains under all the existing rules of the single market, customs union etc – though of course without having any say in them.

This is the so-called “blind Brexit” scenario, which despite all their fulminations about Chequers, the Tory Brexiteers may have decided is their best option.

Rather than come out now and be upfront about what Britain’s future trading relations are likely to be – their shelved Plan B – they just want to get Britain over the hurdle of Article 50 in March next year.

After that, Britain will be irrevocably out of the European Union and – they believe – will be left with no choice but to experience the cold bath of the free market come 2021.

Britain is most unlikely ever to rejoin the EU.

And this is because on March 29 we lose our opt-outs, most importantly, from the single European currency.

The truth is that Britain already has a very good deal with the EU, getting all the benefits of the single market, without having to adopt the euro, and with special discounts to our budget contribution.

It is most unlikely that the EU would agree to these being restored in the unlikely event that Britain reapplies for membership.

While Brussels has rejected as unworkable most of the Chequers proposals for remaining in the single market for goods, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier might still see it as the basis for an agreement in principle.

After all,Theresa May’s Chequers plan concedes that Britain would accept adjudications of the European Court of Justice.

Brussels may well see that as a green light to offer qualified acceptance.

Then Britain will be out – without any finalised trade deal. And make no mistake: there will be no going back.