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Three years ago, the minority of Tory MPs who argued in favour of leaving the European Union were convinced that the UK would be offered, and would accept, a sensible exit based on straightforward, tariff-free access to the Single Market and a recognition that Britain – as the world’s fifth-largest economy and sixth-strongest military power – would continue to be Europe’s trusted friend and partner.
Ukip wouldn’t like it, they said. Nigel Farage would huff and puff. But that didn’t matter. They were no more than useful idiots.
And then the result came in – a wafer-thin victory for Leave. Er … hurrah! Sort of. David Cameron slung his hook and a new government was handed the conch. What mattered now, to this same minority of Conservatives, was that Theresa May and David Davis should move quickly – chop chop – to get us the Brexit of their dreams while Liam Fox secured trade deals with the 167 countries that existed outside of Europe, including the US and China, that would transform Britain’s prospects and turn us into world-beaters.