WHAT Suella Braverman came away with on Brexit at this week’s “National Conservatism” conference in London was undoubtedly extremely aggravating but, for what it is worth, her comments seemed to confirm the simple truths.

The lack of understanding of the huge economic effects of Brexit or a refusal to acknowledge these, whichever it is that is the problem for Ms Braverman, was beyond annoying.

And it must be emphasised the simple truths thrown into stark relief by Ms Braverman represent cold comfort as households and businesses pay the price for the Tory hard Brexit stupidity through rampant overall inflation and sky-high food prices, a skills and labour shortage crisis, and major barriers to exporting.

The truths highlighted by what Secretary of State for the Home Department Ms Braverman said and just as importantly what she left out are as follows: Brexit has caused great economic damage, and the Tory right wing’s drive to leave the European Union was fuelled by a bizarre ideology of alarming British nationalism and anti-immigration sentiment.

Her speech was, overall, an extraordinary piece of work, and it would surely have been inconceivable for such an oration to have been delivered by a mainstream politician, let alone a Cabinet minister, before Brexit and the rise of populism.

She criticised “experts” and “elites”. The “elites” reference from the current vintage of right-wing Tories would be amusing had it not gained so much traction, given it is a word that would be best used to describe them and their donors rather than being deployed as a linguistic weapon against educated people who would dare to criticise the decisions and frightening and damaging ideology of those in power.

Of course, Ms Braverman is not the first senior Tory to take issue with experts. Her fellow Cabinet minister and arch-Brexiter Michael Gove did so in the run-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum, declaring: “People in this country have had enough of experts.”

Nevertheless, it is worrying as well as entirely disheartening to hear the anti-experts line trotted out again.

Ms Braverman declared that Conservatives should be “sceptical of self-appointed gurus, experts and elites who think they know best what is in the public’s interest, even when that public is quite certain that they need something different from what those experts are proposing”.

Brexit is a good example of the huge woe that can ensue by not listening to experts. The major economic damage from the folly is well under way, as was inevitable, and it will continue relentlessly unless there is some kind of major U-turn on the hard Brexit visited upon the country by the ruling Tories.

Ms Braverman made it clear she would not countenance any such U-turn, really ramping up the anti-immigration rhetoric in what was, quite frankly, a terrifying speech.

Going back to her comments about experts, it is difficult to imagine the public would have wished to see the massive damage to UK economic output and living standards that continues to be inflicted by Brexit. Of course, they were told a very different tale of what leaving the EU would bring by the Brexiters, a most fantastical story which it has since been confirmed had no grounding in reality. It is the Brexiters’ fantasy, not the views of experts, which is most certainly not in the public’s interests and is most harmful to people.

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Ms Braverman declared: "Those prognosticators of doom who said that Brexit would be an economic catastrophe for the UK – not only were they wrong, they demonstrated a profound ignorance of the British people when they attributed their legitimate desire to regain our national sovereignty as some mix of stupidity and xenophobia."

So there we have it highlighted again - the sad reality that Brexit was an ideological move. And it was a move made in the face of a slew of expert warnings about the huge damage it would cause to the economy, which is now ongoing.

Ms Braverman seems to have a strange idea of what does and does not constitute an “economic catastrophe”. You are left wondering how much she thinks would have to be wiped off UK economic output for it to be a problem.

The “regain our national sovereignty” is most curious. The independence of the UK was in no doubt when the country was a member of the EU.

And it would surely be wrong to suggest that xenophobia and stupidity did not play a major part in Brexit.

It is most foolish, after all, to choose a route which damages the economy and living standards. And some of the anti-immigration rhetoric we have seen in the UK in the run-up to and since Brexit has been horrifying.

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The “prognosticators of doom” phrase, one in keeping with the grandstanding nature of Ms Braverman’s speech, was presumably meant to include those experts who warned Brexit would cause major damage and have been proved entirely right in this regard. They were not wrong, just because Ms Braverman says they were, but some politicians seem to believe that just saying something will make people believe it. And sadly, in these febrile, ideological times, sometimes they do believe politicians’ nonsense.

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In what was a rambling speech, Ms Braverman also declared the UK must not "forget how to do things for ourselves".

She declared: “There is no good reason why we can't train up enough HGV (heavy goods vehicle) drivers, butchers or fruit pickers."

Road haulage and butchery are areas, it must be noted, in which skills and labour shortages have been so acute that even the UK Government, which has been so hell-bent on clamping down on immigration, has had to take emergency measures on visas to bring in people from abroad to fill posts.

These measures have, of course, not solved the problem, and the areas of skills and labour shortages highlighted by Ms Braverman are only a few of myriad sectors right across the UK economy in which firms are struggling to hire the staff they need, following the end of free movement of people between the UK and European Economic Area countries with the Conservatives’ hard Brexit.

Ms Braverman really needs to take a look at the facts before deciding whether it is the experts who are wrong, or herself.

The cold analysis, which contrasts starkly with Ms Braverman’s impassioned style of public speaking, perhaps explains why she wants to warn people about listening to experts. The truths the experts speak are most inconvenient for her, surely.

Forecasts drawn up by Theresa May’s government in 2018 showed Brexit would, with an average free trade deal with the EU, result in UK gross domestic product 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.

Office for Budget Responsibility chairman Richard Hughes, when asked in March on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme about how much stronger the UK economy would have been had the country stayed in the EU, replied: “We think that in the long run it reduces our overall output by around 4% compared with had we remained in the EU.

“It’s a shock to the UK economy of the order of magnitude of those sorts of other shocks that we’ve seen from the pandemic, from the energy crisis.”

Centre for European Reform deputy director John Springford’s latest report on the impact of leaving the EU on the UK economy, published in December, estimates that Brexit had, by the second quarter of 2022, reduced the country’s GDP by 5.5%.

That all sounds like something of a “catastrophe”, Ms Braverman, does it not? Or does the damage need to be even greater than that to satisfy the ideological Brexiters’ definition of the word?