The stakes could not be higher now. We face the biggest political crisis for at least a couple of generations. The risks are now both a democratic crisis and an economic one. We just cannot go on as we have been: evading and obfuscating choices – indeed frequently denying, against all evidence, that there are unavoidable choices. And the public will understandably not, for a very long time, forgive a political class which on all sides of the divide fails to level with it on the choices being made.
This feels a rather unseasonal theme but as we are approaching Christmas I thought I would therefore talk about nine lessons we need to draw from the last two and a half years, if the next two and a half – indeed the next decade – are not to be even more painful.
I wish I could say that I thought these nine lessons were in the process of being digested. Perhaps we do at least have some signs that a genuine debate about types of post Brexit destination, based on something other than complete wishful thinking, is belatedly breaking out. But the debate in this country – on all sides – continues to suffer from all manner of delusions, fantasies and self-deceptions. And the debate in the EU on the British question, insofar as there is one, suffers from complacency, fatigue and strategic myopia. We are in a bad way. And a descent into a deeply troubled and essentially conflictual medium term relationship with the EU and a deeply divided British politics for a generation becomes completely inevitable unless we learn these lessons and apply that learning in the next few years.
So here are nine lessons we need, I think, to learn from the last few years and the conclusions we need to draw from them.