THE Government, it turns out, has something called the Inter-Ministerial Group on Preparedness, which meets weekly. I suppose we should be reassured that, contrary to the impression Theresa May and her colleagues give, they are at least making a show of planning for the enormous changes that Brexit will create.

When it turns out that Whitehall officials have been instructed to draw up models for a no-deal exit, and that they have been labelled “mild”, “severe” and “Armageddon”, you may feel your confidence slipping a bit. According to a source quoted in The Sunday Times, “in the second scenario, not even the worst, the port of Dover will collapse on day one. The supermarkets in Cornwall and Scotland will run out of food within a couple of days and hospitals will run out of medicines within two weeks.”

READ MORE: Theresa May 'too weak' to stand up to Donald Trump on tariffs, says Jeremy Corbyn

On the other hand, a spokesman for the Brexit department said that this assessment was “completely false” and: “We know that none of this would come to pass.” Phew. Unless it turns out – as it will turn out – that this spokesman is wrong.

We can say with certainty that he will be wrong for the same reason that we can say with confidence that mild, severe and Armageddon predictions will also be wrong, which is that the entire history of economic forecasting has demonstrated only one thing, which is that every single economic forecast ever made has been wrong.

Naturally, that doesn’t make economic forecasting, or any other “preparedness”, worthless. It just means that presenting any type of prediction as a divine revelation about what will happen has about as much reliability as haruspicy, the Etruscan practice of soothsaying by fiddling around with the entrails of chickens.

I’m afraid this applies to the breezy assurances made by Brexiters who maintained that extracting the UK from the EU would be a piece of cake, and that we would then march into the broad sunlit uplands of free trade and prosperity. But at least the blame for that can be laid squarely at the Prime Minister’s door.

All the indications so far are that Theresa May, who campaigned against Brexit, is now aiming for the worst version of it possible. It’s as if she has persuaded herself that the Remain campaign’s caricature of Leavers – as little Englanders interested in nothing but immigration, blue passports and a return to the 1950s – was, on reflection, not merely accurate but admirable.

READ MORE: NHS ‘in mortal danger’ says former PM Gordon Brown

Unfortunately for her (and us), that’s not what most people wanted. It’s not even what most Leave voters wanted or, to judge by a recent poll for Conservative Home, in which an astonishing 69 per cent of Tory voters said they wanted Mrs May gone either immediately or before the next election, what most Conservatives wanted.

But though her handling of Brexit has been inept, and failure to pursue plausible models for transition, such as the Efta or EEA routes, inexcusably negligent, it is not only possible but very likely that it can be corrected – though with much more difficulty than needed to be the case. There are, after all, 165 countries not in the EU with which we already trade and to which, after Brexit, we could offer better deals. The EU is, in fact, the world’s only shrinking trade block; while UK exports to EU countries have fallen by more than 10 per cent over the past decade.

And the apocalyptic warnings of the most hysterical Remain advocates are much more implausible. It’s in the EU’s interest (and nature) to play hardball now, especially given the dent the UK’s departure puts in their already shaky budget. But the UK is still one of the world’s leading economies, and it is in everyone’s interest to ensure some accommodation will be found.

It’s certainly possible that that might, economically, be worse than what we now have, but opportunities elsewhere may make up for that. What isn’t plausible is the idea that Armageddon will follow. Even Lord Adonis, who until quite recently had never made a speech about or shown the slightest interest in the EU, but now bangs on incessantly about the need to stop Brexit, doesn’t believe that the UK would run out of medicine or food the day after we leave.

READ MORE: Theresa May insists she is not preparing for 'Brexit Armageddon' if there is no deal with EU

But he, and other Remainers like him, still have several difficulties with their position. The first and most obvious is that it’s undemocratic. The second is that we had similarly catastrophic predictions before the referendum – predictions, remember, of what would happen immediately after the vote, not after we eventually left – not one of which (bar an initial sharp drop in the pound’s value, now largely reversed) has yet happened. And the third, oddly, is caused by exactly what they routinely accuse the Leave camp of: insularity, timidity and an unrealistic view of history.

The previous growth of the EU is now in decline, while many of the countries demonstrating real improvement are Commonwealth nations, from whom we cut ourselves off by concentrating on the EU. In a modern digital, services and knowledge-based economy – which happen to be among Britain’s strengths – geographical proximity has never been less important.

And the UK has considerable advantages, such as speaking English, cultural impact, scientific, educational, political and military clout. It’s much more sensible to assume that those provide opportunities than it is to argue that, detached from the EU, decline is inevitable.

READ MORE: Theresa May 'too weak' to stand up to Donald Trump on tariffs, says Jeremy Corbyn

What’s more, one of the chief advantages of trade (which for some reason seldom gets noted) comes between countries with differing things to offer one another, while the economies of many Western European countries are similar. Though it likes to describe itself as a free trade block, the EU is, in reality, a barrier to trade with those emerging nations.

Brexit is about leaving the EU, rather than Europe, of which we are bound to remain a part, not only geographically, but as friends, allies and trading partners. To assume that any impediment that the EU presents will lead to the end of the world suggests that you haven’t noticed what a lot of the rest of the world there is. The challenge for the Government is to get out there and engage with it. Brexit offers unlimited scope for success in that, even if the government’s current attempts to negotiate it are falling woefully short of what it could deliver.