Brexit is happening -- so let’s all cheer up about it

There were one or two Eurosceptics – I can’t deny it – whose hostility to the EU is an aspect of their hostility to life in general. They loathe Eurocrats, just as they loathe politicians, their boss and their ex-wife. Equally, there are some Remainers whose Europeanism was motivated from the start by a lack of confidence in the United Kingdom.

In the latter case, natural despondency is exaggerated by cognitive dissonance – that is, by an unconscious determination to fit facts to your opinions rather than the other way around. The more emotionally invested you were in Remain, the more you will subliminally block out reports that contradict your prejudices (that is, good economic news) and over-emphasise reports that sustain them (bad economic news).

You might, of course, accuse me of being subject to a confirmation bias of my own – though I try to guard against it. Still, be fair: which side’s predictions have so far proved more correct?

Not that pessimism is a Brexit-specific phenomenon. Forecasts are more often too gloomy than too hopeful. Irrational anxiety is an ingrained human trait, an inheritance from our hunter-gatherer past. As I wrote on CapX last year: