Future historians will look back at Britain in the age of Brexit and seek to explain why its people reduced their power and influence in the world in the belief that they were doing the exact opposite.
But historians will have to move quickly if they are to have a say because the most important consequences of Brexit are already with us. People do not see this because UK membership of the EU is wrongly discussed as an economic issue when it is primarily a political one.
This is a traditional mistake by the British who have been making it with varying degrees of intensity ever since the French politician Robert Schumann put forward his plan for the French-German Coal and Steel Community on 9 May 1950 – a pact that eventually turned into the EU. Enhancing the political power of European states, particularly France and Germany, was always the chief objective.
The misperception has meant that the outcome of the Brexit crisis is talked about with alarm or enthusiasm, depending on the views of the speaker, but generally on the supposition on all sides that this is something good or bad that lies in the future. There is ceaseless discussion about custom unions and single markets which masks the devastating loss of UK power and influence that has already occurred in three crucial areas.
There is greater political division in Britain than at any time since the 17th century and this is not going to go away. Even if parliament is…