It was fascinating to watch the arch-Brexiters’ reaction to the German finance minister extending an invitation for an intensification of the UK’s trade relationship with the European Union.

This relationship has of course been damaged severely by Brexit, which is dragging down UK economic output and by extension weighing on living standards at a very difficult time.

In an interview with the BBC published at the weekend, German finance minister Christian Lindner said: “If you want to intensify your trade relationship with the EU, call us."

Mr Lindner, leader of the German liberals, declared that the UK had a "standing invitation" on future talks aimed at reducing trade barriers, or “obstacles in daily business life” that had arisen.

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He added: "In the daily life of German corporates, there are new obstacles since Brexit... I don't think [the] United Kingdom is benefiting from Brexit.

"We really appreciate the United Kingdom and its values, its people... and I would really, really appreciate it if we can intensify [the trade relationship] again.”

Sadly, the signal that came back from the UK Government, which has had hard Brexit as its flagship policy, and from arch-Leavers more generally, among them past Cabinet ministers, was that there would be no rush to take Mr Lindner up on his offer.

These parties appear curiously desperate that the damage being done by their hard Brexit should not be mitigated.

The Mail on Sunday quoted a UK “Government source” as follows: “We won't be calling them. We have the TCA (trade and cooperation agreement) and we're not amending, changing or renegotiating it.”

A spokesperson for the Government meanwhile told the BBC that the UK was open to "new opportunities" across the globe. This remark chimes with the “anyone but the EU” attitude we have seen from the current vintage of Conservatives when it has come to greater cooperation on trade.

It gets worse though.

The Mail on Sunday quoted former Cabinet minister Simon Clarke as responding to Mr Lindner thus: “At what price? We know there is no closer deal to be agreed without customs unions and single market membership, both of which would make Brexit pointless.”

Interesting use of the word “pointless”.

Rejoining the single market and customs union would at a stroke mitigate much of the damage of Brexit looking forward, although of course the hit to the UK economy already incurred would remain.

It would enable the return of frictionless trade for UK exporters and importers with the country’s largest trading partner.

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And it would allow resumption of free movement of people between the UK and European Economic Area. This would of course go a long way to solving the UK’s skills and labour shortages crisis, which has been fuelled by the hard Brexit delivered by former prime minister Boris Johnson.  

Erstwhile Cabinet minister Lord David Frost, former chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, was the lead negotiator of this woeful hard Brexit.

In the wake of Mr Lindner’s comments, The Mail on Sunday quoted Lord Frost as follows: “'It would be much better if our European friends and partners concentrated on putting their own ramshackle eurozone in order rather than constantly telling us how we should govern ourselves.

“If the EU ever wishes to offer a closer trading relationship that doesn't involve our accepting EU law, then that will be something new. But it's clear Lindner is not offering that and it is not in his power to offer it. Rather, he hopes we will be suckered back into the single market without a say in its rules, destroying our prospects as a global trader. I can see why that would be in Germany's interest but it is not in ours.”

This would be laughable were the situation, in terms of the economic damage from Brexit, not so grave.

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“Destroying our prospects as a global trader” indeed.

The new trade deals delivered by the Conservative Brexiters, with the likes of Australia and New Zealand and the UK joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, even on the Tories’ own forecasts deliver tiny benefits relative to what has been lost with Brexit.

The UK Government’s own assessment is that joining the Indo-Pacific CPTPP will boost the country’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) by just 0.08% in the long run.

Its impact assessment of the Australia trade deal shows a boost to GDP from this of just 0.08% by 2035. The projected New Zealand trade agreement benefits are even smaller than those forecast from the Australia deal. The Department for International Trade has observed that, for the New Zealand deal, its “sensitivity analysis…suggests the estimated impact on long run GDP could vary between 0.02% and 0.03% (0.023% and 0.034% respectively, to three decimal places)”.

Forecasts drawn up by Theresa May’s government in 2018 showed Brexit would, with an average free trade deal with the European Union, result in UK GDP 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 EEA countries. The Tories have implemented a major clampdown on immigration from the EEA since the UK left the single market at the end of 2020.

David Jones, deputy chairman of the European Research Group of Conservative MPs, was quoted by The Mail on Sunday as follows in the wake of Mr Lindner’s remarks: “I'm sure German companies would love to do more business with the UK.”

And he warned that the German minister “shouldn't hold his breath”.

This remark appears to fit well with the Conservative Brexiters’ peculiar superiority complex.

What is far more odd, however, is the continuing appetite for economic destruction among the Tory Brexiters. It seems that, as the bill for the foolish hard Brexit becomes ever greater, this appetite is also growing. So too, it appears, is the arch-Brexiters’ determination that no one must do anything that might mitigate the damage they have visited upon the UK economy and society.