BREXIT has become a disaster. To be more specific, making plain the nature of the disaster, it is a humiliation, a capitulation. The EU set up a ‘who blinks first’ contest with the UK, which we lost. Britannia droops, a pathetic figure, broken and all but crushed.

In her Florence speech Theresa May effectively threw in the towel. Businesses can’t cope with a cliff edge Brexit, she reckoned. So we’ll have a transition lasting “about” two years after we officially leave next March. Never mind that a whole year of what could have been transition was lost following our vote to quit in June 2016. During that 12 months virtually nothing was done.

Now, those “about” two years of transition from our due exit date proposed by Mrs May will stretch our long goodbye to the EU to a preposterous five years. Or more – justified by “about”. Under a Labour government the period almost certainly would be extended, as leader Jeremy Corbyn is already urging.

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During this transition all present arrangements would stand, even though we would have no voice in the EU. And where would we be at the end? Nothing Mrs May said suggests we would be anywhere other than back at the same cliff edge from which we shied away.

The root of this sorry saga is Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The trigger for leaving the EU, its lack of detail creates scope for endless arguments. Mrs May promises Britain will “honour (financial) commitments” made during its EU membership. Well, as a honourable nation, that should be taken for granted.

But there’s not even agreement on what those commitments are. This is allowing the EU to calculate a final bill double the £18bn offered by Mrs May.

The EU’s negotiating purpose is not only to punish Britain for having the temerity to vote to leave the EU but to demonstrate to any other nation similarly inclined that, Article 50 notwithstanding, once a nation is in the EU it is shackled to it forever. Meanwhile EU president Jean-Claude Juncker has set out his blueprint for the EU – as a United States of Europe. With the euro as its common currency (goodbye pound sterling) there would also be common tax and foreign policies and a "European Defence Union", code for a common army.

At the end of our "transition" there will almost certainly be calls for a new referendum. I believe the outcome would be either a landslide confirmation of the wish to leave, as the public seize the opportunity to register their disgust with the politicians who have betrayed them, or a much smaller victory to rejoin the EU.

But a majority of just one to return to the EU would see us welcomed back almost immediately. For the cameras there would be smiles and handshakes. But behind our backs, EU leaders would smirk at having brought Britain to heel. Tail between our legs, we would rejoin the EU on its terms and be in a weak position to resist any of its future bidding.

And which nation would most others look to for the lead, as they do now? Why Germany, against whose threat to our sovereignty millions of proud Britons gave their lives in the last century.