Who said the burnt child fears the fire? In June 2016 a stunned and humiliated political class momentarily came face to face with reality and the true sentiments of the population it governed. Because of the drawn-out Brexit process, however, the impact of that chastening experience has receded; an ingrained sense of entitlement has reasserted itself, and those entrusted with oversight of Britain’s departure from the EU have embraced appeasement with a fervour that makes Lord Halifax look like Winston Churchill.

Regardless of whether or not there is any substance to the rumours that Theresa May is willing to disgorge between £46bn and £50bn towards a “divorce bill” from the EU, it is certain there are many around her and in the wider political spectrum only too willing to do so. Even the supposedly “sound” David Davis is now talking about some level of payment. Why? We do not owe the EU anything. Even the House of Lords has admitted there is no legal basis for paying Brussels one penny.

The reality is that this is a bribe, in the eyes of the EU apparatchiks a 50 per cent down payment, to persuade their negotiators graciously to discuss trade and other real-world issues. Without that pourboire, they will not move on to any topic of substance. Cash for access does not come more exorbitant than that.

This is taxpayers’ money. The sums being mooted represent 100 flagship hospitals, or 100 Royal Naval frigates, or 12 Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. Money that Britain desperately needs domestically to be doled out to the Brussels kleptocracy to squander on its vanity projects and expenses. Why? Because the Vichy Tories’ instinct is to capitulate to Brussels, however inordinate the demands. Have they thought how such a disbursement would be regarded by people in the north-east of England and other “left behind” areas – the people whose voice rang in their ears on 24 June, 2016 but who they have now forgotten?

The Remain camp is still trying to promote the Grande Peur over Brexit. It leaves the British people unmoved, as it did during the referendum campaign. The latest economic news, in Brexit-stricken Britain, shows manufacturing output has just hit a 22-year high and retail sales are up 1.3 per cent year-on-year. Yet Michel Barnier, the preening playground bully acclaimed by Remain fellow travellers as a brilliantly skilled negotiator, says menacingly: “There are extremely serious consequences of leaving the single market and it hasn’t been explained to the British people. We intend to teach people… what leaving the single market means.”

Ooh! Get her! Barnier, however, is right on this: there are extremely serious consequences of Britain leaving the Single Market – for the European Union. OECD and UN Comtrade data show the UK has deprived itself of years of freer trade for our exporters in both goods and services by forfeiting its right to conduct trade negotiations, shackled by the Single Market. The aggregate GDP in 2015 of the 55 countries with an EU agreement was $7.7 trillion; to put that in perspective, the corresponding figure for Chile was $58.3 trillion. The EU has opened just $4.8 trillion of services markets to UK exporters; the figure for Chile was $55.4 trillion.

In two-thirds of instances, post-EU agreements, the growth of UK exports has fallen. The Single Market is not a boon to Britain, but a drag-chain. As late as 2011, government officials, constantly proclaiming the “benefits” of the Single Market, were exposed as having no data on its workings apart from European Commission reports. Exports of goods of the 12 founder nations of the Single Market, since 1993, were 14.6 per cent lower than if they had continued to grow at the pre-Single Market rate. UK exports to the other founder member states were 22.3 per cent lower.

Britain’s trade deficit with the EU, in goods and services, is £70bn. Do EU businesses want to stand by and watch the demented politicos in Brussels kill that golden goose? The reality is that Britain holds all the cards, but our politicians and civil servants are too spineless and Europhile to play our hand. Instead, they submit to being punch-bags for thuggish Eurocrats like Juncker and Verhofstadt.

The latest ploy is transition creep, now threatening to extend Britain’s membership of EU institutions – preventing independent trade deals and enforcing porous borders – to as late as 2023. Give it another few months of sell-out and it will be 2033. Transition would not be a benefit to Britain: it is designed to prolong Brussels control and subvert Brexit by undermining our economy to make Remainer claims a self-fulfilling prophecy. Brexit should be executed briskly, like pulling off a sticking plaster.

The inclination of the elite to surrender and defer to Britain’s enemies is a conundrum to be solved not so much by commentators or even historians, but by anthropologists. We are witnessing the imminent fall of an effete ruling clique, as so many times before in history. If there is a sell-out deal, with British taxpayers’ money squandered in Danegeld to the Brussels nomenklatura and toxic EU institutions embedded like shrapnel in the British body politic, there will be a public explosion of anger on a scale unprecedented in any of our lifetimes.

The electorate, as we have recently seen, is now extravagantly volatile. In a post-Brexit sell-out general election there would be every possibility of Nigel Farage returning, like De Gaulle from Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, and leading UKIP to a landslide victory. That is not a prediction; but the mere fact of its being a possibility, in the calculations of any thoughtful observer, is testimony to the blindness of the political class and its unconscious proximity to a political revolution that would relegate it to the dustbin of history.

Britain should never have entered into the pseudo-negotiations being manipulated by the Brussels hoods to damage our country. It is time to draw stumps and unilaterally declare independence from the doomed leviathan that is the EU.