SO here we are, more than 15 months on from the Brexit vote, and those who have been so determined to drag us out of the European Union at huge cost to the UK economy and population apparently continue to believe patriotic optimism trumps reality.

If it was some sort of long-running, made-for-TV political satire, it would probably still be amusing, especially given supposed Tory leadership prospect Jacob Rees-Mogg’s enthusiastic citations of Great British military victories in Europe on the fringes of this week’s Conservative Party conference. Admittedly though, notwithstanding these hilariously unbelievable asides from a man who has become a perhaps unlikely crowd-puller, the black comedy might have become a bit tiresome and exasperating for many by now.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox does not seem to have made any meaningful progress in the pursuit of those big new agreements with countries outwith the European Union that are supposedly, according to the Brexiters’ peculiar pre-referendum narrative, going to make Britain great again.

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However, this failure to turn empty rhetoric into something tangible appears not to have dampened his enthusiasm for the ill-judged project, even as the UK population at large is already paying the price for the folly through a renewed fall in real pay amid rampant inflation triggered by sterling’s post-Brexit vote weakness. And he keeps banging on about the brave new world of fresh trade agreements, as if merely spouting emptily about them will conjure them up.

It was entirely fitting that, as the Conservative Party conference got into full swing on Monday morning, the financial screens brought stories that the pound was falling. Brexit is hanging over everything, and it was no surprise that, in this context, currency traders were seemingly not expecting anything in the way of positive news on this front. And they were right not to get their hopes up.

Much has been made of the change in “tone” evident in Prime Minister Theresa May’s recent speech about Brexit in Florence.

However, given how long has passed since the Brexit vote, surely some substance might be appropriate. And this was again conspicuous by its absence in Mrs May’s address to the Conservative Party conference.

The Confederation of British Industry put it well on Tuesday when responding to the conference speech delivered by David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general, welcomed a reinforced commitment at the Conservative Party conference to “transitional arrangements”.

However, he added: “The need to agree transition and move to discussions on the final deal is critical. There is no time to waste: the impact on investment and jobs across the UK and Europe grows day by day.”

It is important to realise this warning is about as far from hyperbole as you could get. The threats are very real, and are crystallising already, with much worse to come.

There has, as is evident in the CBI response, been some understandable relief throughout the business community about a seeming relaxation of previous Tory stubborness over transition arrangements. It seems to have taken the UK Government an inordinately long time to recognise the need for such arrangements to be implemented.

And we should certainly not overstate any credit due for this belated recognition. Maybe it has been nothing more than a realisation that the clock is ticking loudly and no meaningful progress is being made in terms of what on earth, beyond the bluster, happens next in terms of the practicalities of Brexit.

Amid the shambles, Mr Fox remains as upbeat as ever and even tried his hand at a wisecrack in his speech to the Conservative Party conference on Tuesday.

He declared: “When people ask me if I’m a glass half-full man or a glass half-empty man, I just say I am Scottish and the glass isn’t full enough.”

According to a text of his speech, he may well have meant “big enough” rather than “full enough”. Though perhaps not big enough for ordinary folk to drown the Brexit sorrows.

In any case, the unfolding economic situation is no joking matter.

In particular, the continuing Tory denial of reality is not funny.

It is not always easy to understand what in the world Mr Fox is talking about when it comes to the economy. However, his seemingly intended reference to the need for a bigger glass appeared to be some kind of statement of ambition or hope.

Usually, hope is a fine emotion. And it is pretty important to try to hang on to it amid the misery inflicted on the UK’s economy and population by the Conservatives since 2010, in terms of continuing savage austerity and now the Brexit debacle as well. But it is incumbent on Mr Fox to deal also in reality.

And we have seen plenty more reality in a raft of economic surveys this week.

Amid the continuing huge uncertainty over Brexit, UK construction activity contracted in September for the first time in 13 months, a survey from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply revealed.

A separate survey from CIPS showed a slowdown in UK manufacturing growth, as well as an intensification of already worrying inflationary pressures in terms of both costs and factory gate prices caused in large part by sterling’s post-Brexit vote woes. It is worth noting CIPS’s surveys have painted a more upbeat picture of the UK manufacturing sector than official data. Latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics show UK manufacturing activity fell 0.3 per cent in the second quarter.

CIPS’s latest services survey on Wednesday showed continuing lacklustre growth in this key sector of the economy and signalled that third-quarter growth might well be as weak as the 0.3 per cent expansion seen in the three months to June.

Meanwhile, a survey from the British Retail Consortium and market researcher Nielsen this week showed a surge in annual food price inflation.

So the effects of the Brexit vote are already all too real for many.

The Conservatives, if they can shift their focus away from their own infighting for long enough, need to realise that this is not some esoteric debate over ideology, akin to a university debating chamber.

Pompous talk will not win the day for the argument. This is real.

And it is high time the Brexiters, at the very least, acknowledged the reality of our predicament.