In 1974, a Tokyo bookseller named Yoshimi Taniguchi arrived on Lubang Island in the Phillipines. Taniguchi, a former Major in the Japanese in WW2, was there to give a final order to one of his soldiers.
Hiroo Onoda, the soldier in question, had been on the island since 1944 and had been fighting a guerilla war since the war ended in 1945. Believing stories of Japanese surrender were little more than propaganda spread by the Americans, Onoda had continued to obey his orders, kept his rifle in pristine condition and refused to surrender until ordered to by his superior. He was determined to keep fighting the battle.
I'm reminded of this story as we watch the economic fallout of Brexit.
You won't need reminding that before the vote, economists, politicians and independent experts from around the globe lined up to say what an economic disaster a decision to leave would be. A veritable alphabet soup of organisations released reports detailing the problems that a Brexit would cause for the UK economy. IMF. OECD. IFS. HMT. BoE. LSE. And so on, and so on.
And their calls were met with one consistent voice by Leave campaigners. It was all 'Project Fear', a conspiracy of elites and establishment figures designed to scare the people into voting to stay. As we know, it didn't work. But as we're beginning to learn, it wasn't Project Fear. It was Project Fact.
The pound is now below $1.30, down from $1.50 before the vote. Six major investment funds have frozen trading on their property funds because investors are withdrawing money so fast. British construction had their worse performance in seven years in June. Our credit rating has been downgraded. The Bank of England Governor is warning that Britain faces a hugely uncertain economic future, and consumer confidence is shot to bits. The Government, after 6 years of austerity and balancing the books, have abandoned their deficit surplus target and now talked about increasing borrowing to stimulate the economy.
And yet, like Hiroo Onoda, many leave voters continue to fight the pre-vote war on Project Fear, steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the reality that they've helped to create. Boris Johnson did it when he said that the economy was fine just days after the vote, and Andrea Leadsom, a woman within touching distance of being the next Prime Minister, did it again yesterday when she said we were ok because the FTSE 100 was up and the pound had dropped 'a little bit.'
And when you point out the fact that, actually, alot of the pre-vote warnings about economic damage have been right, something weird happens.
But sterling is doing really badly? Grow up, it's not THAT bad.
What about the loss of AAA rating? Well, now you're just being a sore loser.
Aren't you worried that many economists now predict a recession? Stop talking down the economy.
But what about capital flight, potential rises in inflation, the volatility of the commercial property market, the level of household indebtedness and the UK current account deficit? Here, take a look a graph of the FTSE 100 and stop worrying.
Stating facts is now whining. Quoting serious, hard-headed analysis is undermining the economy. Talking about our financial reality is sour grapes.
These are the very same people who now call on us all to unite after the vote and work together to make the best of our future. But we can't start planning for the future until they return to the present and accept that our vote to leave has done serious damage to our economy, in the short to medium term at the very least.
And before anyone thinks I'm saying we should all be charging around, hair on fire in a blind panic about all of this, I'm not. And equally, I have no desire to see the economy tank to be proved correct retrospectively. But if those who wished this future on us can't at least live in the reality they've created, then there isn't much hope for them overcoming the huge political, economic and social challenges we now face.
And be under no illusions, those challenges are enormous. We now have to try and extricate ourselves from the EU under the shadow of a fragile economy, an unstable political future and a weight of expectation from the British people that I remain convinced we cannot match. We live in a new reality, and we all have to get to grips with it pretty damn quick. That means swallowing pride, on both sides, and accepting that we're in some very choppy waters right now.
The war is over. Leave campaigners need to stop fighting it's battles. It's time to come out the jungle, put the guns down and accept that the world isn't quite the same as when the conflict started.