The great trick or fallacy of the Brexiters was to the fore again last week.

Whether it is a fallacy or trick depends in each individual case, of course, on whether those pushing the line that Brexit is done and in the past actually believe what they are saying or know the truth fine well.

As the shambles around leaving the European Union has developed in the way it was always clear that it would, the Brexiters have seemed even more at pains to portray Brexit as done, and to create the impression that the effects are somehow in the past.

Some might view this as a simple lack of willingness to accept responsibility for a mess. Whatever it is, what is patently clear is that Brexit and its grim consequences are very far from done.

So it was somewhat frustrating, though not at all surprising, to hear Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross portray Brexit as something that was in the past when he outlined what turned out to be a monumentally underwhelming economic vision last week.

As he launched the Scottish Conservatives’ “grasping the thistle” policy paper, which omitted to address Brexit, Mr Ross seemed most determined to dodge the issue of the UK’s departure from the EU.

Asked by The National why the newly launched document did not address the impact of Brexit on Scotland’s economy, Mr Ross said: “This is looking to the future. I’m just commenting in this paper on a report from the Scottish Fiscal Commisssion that looks forward into the next 50 years.

“So I’m looking forward to what we can do now to help the coming generation and future generations and I think that’s where this paper is really important.”

A few points are worth making here. Brexit has, of course, caused very significant damage. However, much of the damage from the folly has yet to be felt and will play out over years and decades. That, Mr Ross, is “looking to the future”.

Furthermore, the “coming generation and future generations” will be greatly affected by Brexit. Many young people are, quite understandably, rather annoyed about the Conservative Government having hauled the UK out of the EU. And it should be remembered in this context that there was a very large majority in Scotland which preferred to stay in the EU, which is maybe why Mr Ross is so keen to avoid talking about Brexit.

Mr Ross might want to have a quick browse of another report, which is far more substantial than his “grasping the thistle” effort, published this week by the UK in a Changing Europe (UKICE) think-tank in conjunction with Full Fact.

This provides an astute, and crucially non-political, analysis of Brexit.

Jonathan Portes, a senior fellow of the Economic and Social Research Council-funded UK in a Changing Europe initiative based at King’s College London, said: “Brexit is undoubtedly a drag on growth. It’s hard to see major improvements to the UK’s growth trajectory resulting from relatively minor improvements to the current trading arrangements.

"The next government will have to decide whether that is all that is politically feasible, or whether - at least over the medium term - the potential economic benefits of a more ambitious renegotiation of the UK’s economic relationship with the EU outweigh the obvious political risks.”

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So, Mr Ross, Brexit is very much an ongoing thing, and there is still an opportunity, should the political will exist over time, to mitigate the economic damage.

To take the view that Brexit is something that is in the past would shut down the opportunity for serious consideration of a renegotiation of the economic relationship between the UK and EU. And why would any politician, given they should presumably be looking after the good of the electorate, wish to shut down an opportunity to limit damage to the economy and living standards?

UKICE director Anand Menon wrote in the think-tank's report this week: “The conversation about UK relations with the European Union has altered quite markedly since Boris Johnson signed his Brexit deal on Christmas Eve in 2020. For one thing, the debate concerning the economic impact of Brexit has intensified, not least in the context of the current cost of living crisis.”

He observed that, as more data had become available, “economists have begun to assess the actual as opposed to expected impact of the decision to leave”.

Mr Menon, touching on the agreement between the UK and EU on Brexit, added: “Even a Government anxious not to discuss the economics of Brexit has reluctantly admitted that implementing the full raft of border checks necessitated by the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) might exacerbate inflation, and that, in the words of the Chancellor, ‘having unfettered trade with our neighbours and countries all over the world is very beneficial to growth’.”

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He noted that “public opinion too seems to have shifted”.

Mr Menon said: “In May, Nigel Farage declared that Brexit had failed. YouGov confirmed that over 60% of respondents felt it had been more of a failure than a success.”

He observed global strategic consulting firm Redfield and Wilton had found that, leaving aside those not expressing a preference, as many as 61% of people are in favour of rejoining the EU, while only 39% back staying out.

Mr Menon added: “Finally, according to our polling, 40% of Leave voters now say that the UK economy is significantly weaker after leaving the EU, while the economy is a key driver of doubts expressed by Leave supporters who now regret their 2016 choice.”

He observed neither the Conservatives nor Labour was “anxious to make Brexit a major issue”.

Mr Menon said: “Labour fears alienating Leave supporters. And it is hardly easy for the Conservatives to sell the benefits of Brexit at a time when so many see it as at least partly responsible for our current economic woes.”

This is not a good situation.

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And, for anyone who would like to see the damage from Brexit to the UK economy and living standards mitigated, the unfortunate political backdrop does not stop there.

Mr Menon observed: “As for the Labour Party, senior politicians have spoken of the opportunities offered by the forthcoming review of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and stressed the need to build on the agreement negotiated by Boris Johnson.”

However, he noted that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had “imposed strict red lines on any such initiatives, ruling out a fundamental reassessment of the relationship in the form of a bid to join either the customs union or single market, let alone reapply to the EU”.

This is also most unfortunate.

Mr Menon said: “While there is little appetite on the part of the current UK Government to build on the relationship negotiated by Boris Johnson, the difficulties experienced in negotiating UK participation in the EU’s Horizon research programme bear eloquent testimony to the problems inherent in doing so even should the political will be present.

"This would become all the clearer under a Labour government. As forthcoming UKICE work on the scheduled review of the TCA makes clear, it is far from obvious that the EU is interested in even the limited kinds of alterations to the status quo that Labour figures are mooting. Brexit fatigue and a number of other issues vying for political attention will conspire to limit the appetite for lengthy negotiations with London. Not to mention that the EU will hesitate to negotiate anything with a Labour government that might be repudiated soon afterwards by a Conservative successor.”

He added: “And of course even were Labour to be successful in reaching, for instance, a veterinary agreement with the EU, these kinds of measure will make little difference to the overall economic impact of Brexit. Consequently, that impact will continue to be felt, exacerbating the problems in generating growth…It is anyone’s guess as to whether, and if so when, the debate over the economics of Brexit translates into serious political will to revisit some of its guiding principles.”

There is sadly, for now, precious little sign of light at the end of the tunnel as we face the very real future impact of Brexit.