Divorce is often accompanied by poor behaviour by both parties, and Brexit was no exception. Some in Brussels might view any attempt to rekindle the relationship with scepticism, others outright hostility.
While support for our new life outside the EU’s borders has waned, there is still far from a clear majority in favour of membership. A new poll by BMG Research found if a referendum was held today, 45 per cent would vote to return, while 41 per cent backed staying out.
As with Scottish independence, any major constitutional change should require a super-majority in a referendum of, perhaps, 60 per cent. Indeed, the EU would probably want to see a decisive result to reassure them the UK really did want to return, and would not quickly change its mind. Equally importantly, a clear-cut result would make it easier for those who lost to accept the result.
The 1975 confirmatory referendum on European Community membership, held by Labour after Edward Heath took the country in, saw people vote by just such a majority, 67 to 33 per cent, to stay. And Scotland voted Remain by 62 to 38 per cent in 2016. So it can be done.
Some might see this as a daunting threshold, but many Brexiteers are starting to regret their decision. The poll found 14 per cent would now vote in favour of EU membership, although seven per cent of former Remainers have also switched sides. Some 33 per cent of Leave supporters also believe Brexit has had a negative effect on the economy, compared to just 24 per cent who think the reverse.
Building the necessary level of support will take time, but it starts with spreading awareness of the problems caused by barriers to trade and finding ways to address them. Better trade relations with the EU would benefit the economy, and in turn help shift public opinion further. Membership of the European Free Trade Association (Efta) could be seen as a potential half-way house to full EU membership.
Brexit was a supreme act of folly that has damaged our economy and elevated incompetent politicians far beyond their abilities, unleashing waves of political turmoil. But the glimmer of hope that we will return is getting brighter.