Removing the ‘dead hand’ of Brussels, stopping the free flow of people to and from the European Union, and “taking back control” were supposed to make life better.
The reality is that our new trade deals with other countries are largely imitations of the existing EU ones, while the vast number of job vacancies has not led to rapidly rising wages because businesses cannot afford to pay them. For these reasons and others, the UK economy is paying a price. The leaders of the Brexiteer movement misled their own supporters; the only question is whether they did so knowingly or were themselves deluded.
Predictably, yesterday’s publication of the annual Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) report, saw unionists and nationalists interpret the figures in ways designed to reinforce their arguments, leaving voters to choose between claim and counter-claim.
The more ardent supporters may also similarly bend the facts to suit their views, already fixed for reasons more to do with ideas of national identity, than economics.
But, in truth, both camps need to make a number of assumptions to use the GERS figures to make their case.
In a rapidly changing world, it is hard to know how long energy prices will remain at the current high levels and for how long the government will need to provide considerable financial support for people struggling to pay their bills and feed their families. So any insights can only be vague.
What is clear is that if Scotland was independent today, it would undoubtedly be facing the future with at least as much trepidation as the rest of the world. A small nation, isolated from its nearest neighbour, might find itself alone in a sea of troubles with fewer reserves upon which to draw to help its people steer a safe course.
There is no question that the SNP is asking Scotland to take a significant gamble and, what’s more, amid a global economic crisis. Their challenge is to face that head on and provide as much factual information as possible to let voters know what they could be getting into. In other words, to ensure that if ‘Scexit’ ever happens, it is achieved by honest means. It’s the least we deserve.