Management books often repeat the dictum: ‘If there’s one thing worse than making mistakes, it’s not learning from them.’ So let’s apply that smug little idea to Brexit.
Before I start, a couple of housekeeping points. I voted Remain, but believe we must leave the EU and honour the referendum result. Second, as a former Brexit minister, writing this is a form of therapy for me.
Failure no. 1 — from which many other failures flow — was a lack of honesty. Brexit is the biggest challenge we’ve faced since 1939. It’s complex, existential and will take years. It demands a sense of national endeavour, of ‘let us go forward together’. One example of dishonesty was the much--repeated idea, which I had to trot out as a minister, that the whole thing would be completed by now, and we would enter an ‘implementation period’.