Jumping from a moving vehicle.

Imagine, if you will, a coach setting off from a small village. You are on board with a bunch of strangers from all across Europe. It’s being driven by an amiable Belgian and no one is quite sure where it is going.

It begins to pick up speed. A Franco-German couple in the front row are shouting encouragement at the driver. They want him to press down on the accelerator even though some of the other passengers are starting to feel a bit car sick.

You start to wonder whether you should have got on this bus.

You have a choice. You can stay aboard and hope you like the destination when you get there… or you can ask the other passengers if — like you — they want more say about the direction of travel, and endeavour to persuade the driver to slow down.

These are really the only sensible options but you nonetheless start considering a more radical solution. Instead of changing the route or persuading the driver to stop so you can climb off safely, you start to think that you should simply open the door and jump off.

Welcome to Brexit.

The EU coach is hurtling along a highway and our government has decided — on the back of a questionable mandate — to pray this country can survive the consequences of hitting the tarmac at 70mph.

This dilemma is arguably the strongest argument for leaving the EU… the very fact of finding ourselves in a position where the consequences of withdrawal are dire, should force us to fundamentally rethink the relationship.

But it’s insane to deny the reality of the coach’s current speed. Stepping off it now is going to hurt. A lot.

The referendum should have been used by our government to persuade the EU that it had shifted too far from its original purpose and that it needed to take account of disillusioned citizens throughout the continent. A failure to respond should have led to a slow disentanglement reflecting the complex reality of the UK’s relationship with the EU. And, eventually, formal withdrawal.

That’s what should have happened.

But thanks to the vanity of David Cameron, and the cynical opportunism of a coterie of fools led by Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Theresa May, we’re about to bounce across the carriageway like unwanted meat. Good luck, everyone… you’re going to need it.