IF Brexit is the great success its proponents claim, how come no one is celebrating its third anniversary on Tuesday night?

Alternatively, if Brexit has become the great disappointment that opinion polls suggest, how come no one is protesting except independence supporters across Scotland?

It’s a puzzle. Brexit has become the Cheshire cat of British politics, once a massive issue of conscience that could make and break prime ministerial careers. Now, as Brexit quietly crushes its way through our economy, all that’s left is Nigel Farage’s leering grin – slowly disappearing into the political ether together with all those empty promises of cash for the NHS, better lives and a rebooted economy.

Why no public celebrations? First, Brexit’s exhibitionist cheerleader, Boris Johnson, is gone, and it would take someone with his brass neck to whoop it up on an anniversary 55 per cent of British voters now regret.

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Gone too: the louche Jacob Rees-Mogg, who laid the “careless” trail for Nadim Zahami by advocating Brexit then shifting his investments to the Eurozone – just to be on the safe side. What a good idea that was, with the Euro now trading at parity with Sterling in “basket-case” Ireland, which incidentally has twice the UK’s GDP and had 7.9% growth in 2022 while the UK teetered on the brink of recession.

Secondly, attempts to celebrate Britain’s “independence day” already fell flat, when the Unboxed Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland took place just last year. Yip, me too. It featured 10 projects between March and October 2022 across the UK, including a 10km sculpture trail in Northern Ireland and a stunning illumination of Paisley Abbey.

Still not ringing a bell? You’re not alone. Proposed by Theresa May in 2016 to mark our “national renewal” as a nation outside the European Union, the festival was inherited by Bojo who ignored pleas to pump the £120m into closure-threatened museums and arts venues instead. Organisers – currently facing a National Audit Office inquiry – claim Unboxed was doing fine until Mr Rees-Mogg renamed it the Festival of Brexit. Don’t you miss his unscripted contributions to civic life?

Thereafter Unboxed recorded attendance figures of just 238,000, less than 1% of early targets – a bit like Brexit itself. To be fair, it wasn’t just the poisonous Brexit tag what done for Unboxed, but ironically Brexit itself – disrupting the supply of workers and materials and inflating costs, plus masterful scheduling that allowed openings to clash with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the centenary of the BBC, the 75th anniversary of the Edinburgh International and Fringe Festivals, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, the centenary of the Irish Free State and the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday massacre.

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A perfect moment to ram forced jolliness down the throats of Northern Irish Remain voters, whilst legislating to break international law by dumping the Northern Ireland protocol.

Third, the whole Brexit process was so long and drawn out with Johnson missing several “die-in-a-ditch” deadlines that no one really remembers the day we actually, legally left: January 31st 2020. And of course, a transition period softened the blow, so new rules on trade, travel and business between the UK and EU didn’t kick in until January 2021. After which, the full scale of Britain’s staffing and supply chain crises slowly became visible.

Finally, and obviously, Brexit hasn’t really worked out all that well. In 2020 and even 2021, negative reports, unhealthy economic projections and warnings of mayhem in the labour market could plausibly be shrugged off as the vengeful claims of spiteful Remoaners, the world’s worst losers. Not now.

And as for Britain’s post-Brexit “oven-ready” trade deals - really?

There’s still no prospect of a deal with the USA and those already signed are underwhelming and even damaging. Last year’s deal with New Zealand gave UK farmers none of the protections included in the EU’s deal with the Kiwis, and Scottish farmers are steeling themselves for a deluge of lamb and beef imports. The British Government has agreed to allow 12,000 tonnes of New Zealand beef into the UK – four times the total allowed into the whole of the EU. All for a GDP rise of just 0.08 per cent, in contrast to the 4% fall delivered by Brexit.

But in response to Scottish farmers’ pleas, then trade minister Penny Mordaunt announced all limits on imports will be axed in 15 years’ time. It’s a sign of the free-for-all to come.

HeraldScotland: Trade minister Penny Mordaunt announced all limits on imports will be axed in 15 years time – a sign of things to comeTrade minister Penny Mordaunt announced all limits on imports will be axed in 15 years time – a sign of things to come (Image: Newsquest)

Meanwhile, the EU Retained Law Bill will scrap, retain or revise around 4,000 pieces of legislation drafted by Brussels and retained as UK law after Brexit. Chaos beckons unless the scattergun legislation is halted by their Lordships. Unlikely.

Or will the election of Euro-friendly Keir Starmer restore EU relations and save the day?

Well, if talking nicely to foreigners can undo lack of access to the single market, freedom of movement, inclusion in Erasmus or the continental move towards green energy, he truly is a miracle worker.

Brexit was an economic hit-and-run and so far, the driver has got away with it. So, no Westminster party will touch tomorrow’s anniversary lest they’re forced to admit responsibility.

Lesley Riddoch: No, it’s not time for the Yes side to give up

Essentially, the Scots got it right on Brexit, first time around, creating a Brexit-voting cliff-face the day after the 2016 vote. Remain yellow in every single council area north of the border – Leave blue in most of the councils south of it. The striking differences within this supposedly United Kingdom were suddenly measurable and visible. A world, largely sceptical about independence in 2014, suddenly got it. Scotland is another country.

So, independence supporters will leave Lights On in windows across Scotland and at a Holyrood rally tomorrow night which I have co-organised. Even if EU membership doesn’t make every Yesser heart race, it’s the prism through which neighbours understand the campaign for independence. And that’s the real reason no unionist party will roll out the bunting tomorrow. The union cannot survive such a spotlight on Britain’s unbridgeable political chasm.