One of the most frequently heard assertions by Brexiteers keen to be seen as open-minded and liberal is that the UK is leaving the EU, not Europe.
Very well. But what does this mean? In one sense, it is obvious. As I have had cause to remark in recent days, Calais will still be 21 miles from Dover on March 30, or on whichever date Britain actually takes leave of the European Union. Much as some on the Brexit side might regret the fact, the nation is not about to up-anchor and move to Southeast Asia.
So we are staying where we have always been, with our south coast facing towards France and Belgium and our eastern counties looking out in the direction of the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia.
It ought to be considered banal to point this out, but the fact is that many of those who support Brexit wish fervently that we could, like an oil tanker, turn around and set sail for the far side of the world. Indeed, there are many who argue that, in spirit, if not as a matter of geographical fact, we should in future think of the UK as situated midway between California, Australia and Singapore, about 500 miles west of Hawaii.