United for Europe march
Pro-EU protesters against Brexit at the United for Europe march in London REUTERS/Paul Hackett

I've lost count of the number of times since last June's referendum that I have been called a "Remoaner" – the catch-all term which sweeps up everyone with niggling doubts about the wisdom of Brexit.

It has become the contemporary equivalent of labelling a person a "counter-revolutionary". The quandary is always defined as a lack of faith, rather than too much of it. Doubt is always and everywhere evidence of malevolent intent, even doubts which have a strong grounding in reality.

This is part of a more general push against dissent by those who claim to love freedom so much that they abhor any deviation from a single point of view. Democracy is not interpreted as the freedom for the one who thinks differently, but as a crude majoritarianism in which the side that wins a single plebiscite can forever harangue and browbeat the losing side.

Yet there is a certain type of Remainer who does at times live up to the pejorative Remoaner label. Or at least they do in the sense that the tone and volume of their complaints about Brexit are such that they sound like they actively hope Britain will fail outside of the EU.

This sceptred isle – if it even exists at all in two years' time – is going to the dogs, or so this argument goes in a familiar repetition of the guff usually trotted out for different reasons by the Daily Mail. "The clocks went back 46 years last night," tweeted the Daily Mirror's Associate Editor Kevin Maguire on the day that Theresa May will deliver the letter to the EU that will trigger Brexit. "Woken up in 1971. Brexit Britain will be poorer and greyer," he added.

This is relatively mild compared to some of the other stuff that's out there. Some are calling Brexit the "shortest suicide note in history", while others are comparing Theresa May to Neville Chamberlain. (The paucity of political debate in this country is evidenced by the fact that the spectre of Adolf Hitler is never far away from these arguments, always ready to come back to life, fling an arm in the air and re-conquer Europe with a couple of tank divisions.)

Yet it seems to me that the best way to preserve anything at all from our membership of the European Union is to stop sounding like you want Britain to crash and burn. Remainers must act 'as if' Britain is going to prosper outside of Europe while fighting vociferously to preserve the gains won over the past 45 years. It was ludicrous for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to claim after the referendum that the "real fight starts now" having been so ineffective when some vigour from him was so desperately needed, but it is true that there is an ongoing fight to get a good deal out of Brexit.

The real fight is to ensure that Britain emerges from Brexit negotiations with a modicum of social democracy intact and its most fanatical Brexiteers effectively reigned in.

If Brexit does not turn out to be the success it was sold as (and I'm sceptical) then something counterintuitive will happen. The Brexiteers will not recant on their far-fetched promises and fag-packet economics but will double down – their cheerleaders in the press will scrabble around looking for saboteurs and suspect foreigners; they will heap the blame for the failure of their project on those ministers who have displayed insufficient fanaticism.

Put another way, it will not be the people who cautioned against taking us down this road who will be feted for their wisdom; it will be the people who refused to deviate from it. This is how the logic of revolutions – or in the case of Brexit, counter-revolutions – plays out. They devour their children, but they devour the flip-floppers before they devour the fanatics.

There is a simplistic argument which has become very popular in the past year which says that populist movements are driven by soft emotion and represent a revolt against hard facts. Spreadsheets and wonks have supposedly been replaced by frothing-at-the-mouth newspaper headlines and baying mobs with pitchforks.

Yet if the desire to say "I told you so" is anything to go by, many Remainers appear themselves to value wild emotion over logical, tactically-literate thinking.

In doom-mongering with more than a hint of triumphalism as the prime minister and her team set off to negotiate Brexit, Remainers forget that, if things do turn sour, they're turning sour for all-but the most cloistered remain and leave supporters alike. Unlike the political animal, who prizes the winning of arguments above all else, there is a mood in the country, even among many of those who voted Remain, of "let's try and make the best we can of Brexit".

And so as tempting as it might be to jump up and down on the hopes and dreams of Littlest England and wag an accusatory, morally superior finger, if the British economy does get sucked down the plughole because of Brexit, sounding even a tiny bit happy about the fact is probably the surest way of not getting a hearing when it comes to putting things right.

And getting a hearing from the electorate – the wider electorate beyond the die-hards on either side – is going to be important when large sections of the government benches and the media are engaged in a mad rush to attribute blame for the mess to everyone but themselves.

If Remainers are the logic-driven cool heads that they believe themselves to be – and if they want to be listened to if things do go wrong – they must stop sounding like they desperately want post-Brexit Britain to fail miserably.