WRITING this before last night’s crucial Brexit vote in the House of Commons I have no idea how it will turn out. Put the other way round, I have as much idea as the 600 or so MPs who will be voting. Which brings us swiftly to the point. On June 23, 2016, most of us, including (I’m going to assume) all those 600-plus MPs, voted in the Brexit referendum.

That mechanism, it is worth reminding ourselves, is invoked when a government chooses to place an issue in the hands of the people.

True to the concept our government promised “we will implement what you decide.” Well, we decided, by more than half the votes cast, that the UK should leave the EU. For me certainly, and for you unless you are an MP, that was the end of our involvement. We trusted the government to get on with it.

In the general election that followed both main parties professed to honour the Brexit vote. But then the House of Commons took the view Parliament must have “a meaningful vote” on the final deal.

By this means MPs, who had already voted as individuals, seized control of Brexit from their fellow citizens. In the last fortnight this has given them a whole series of extra votes on Brexit – motions and amendments, generally anti-Brexit, leading up to the big one last night.

The contempt with which our elected representatives have treated us is mind-blowing. If Brexit is thwarted millions will consider democracy in Britain dead. Since many would not vote again, participation in any second referendum, the so-called “People’s Vote’, would be too low to give the result authority.

Meanwhile Mrs May, once adamant that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, insists her Withdrawal Agreement delivers the Brexit people voted for. In fact, by tying us into most EU rules while we have no say whatsoever, it is the worst possible outcome.

Let me give you the measured, sensible words of Lord Bamford, chairman of JCB, one of Britain’s most successful companies. He says his vote to leave was “based on an assumption that… our exit would be a ‘clean break’, as part of a deal negotiated by both sides in a spirit of understanding and mutual co-operation between good neighbours.”

And so it might have been – had not the EU treated it as war. Observing that no deal means trading on World Trade Organisation terms, under which his company, a major exporter, already operates, Lord Bamford continues: “The more I think about it the more I like the idea of trading with the EU under WTO rules. Business people… should be delighted at the prospect of the UK being able to negotiate trade agreements from day one after exit, something we can’t do under the Withdrawal Agreement.”

Separately, from eight food industry businesses that trade extensively with the EU comes this assurance: “We are not afraid to trade on WTO terms.”

They point to statements from across the Channel expressing a desire – and determination – to maintain business. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. But of course that’s the essence. There’s never been a will by our political elite or the EU. Sod those 17.4 million ‘leave’ crosses on the ballot papers.