By a kind of osmosis, a sinister new phrase has insinuated itself into public discourse on Brexit. Amid the myriad weasel words used by politicians and commentators to obfuscate the realities of the Brexit debate – “hard”, “soft”, “backstop”, “extension” – over the past eight months a new concept has been intruded into the discussion that was previously unthought-of, because unthinkable.

MPs and the public are increasingly being urged to accept whatever gross travesty of Brexit is currently being peddled, under the threat that the alternative is “no Brexit at all”. How can that possibly be? How could a course of action mandated by 17.4 million voters in the largest democratic exercise in British history fail to be implemented? Why would Brexit not happen? Who has the authority to prevent it?