Of course our perception of time has been distorted by the fact that much of the last year has been spent in lockdown, firstly for several months in the spring and then once again in November, and even today much of the country is tied down in restrictions of our civil liberties that would have been totally unthinkable last December.
It has been a year like no other in my lifetime, and I would think that unless you are old enough to remember the privations of the Second World War, the same holds true for you too. For Johnson it has been a tumultuous 12 months, in which after finally achieving his ambition of becoming Prime Minister, he was knocked completely sideways by the pandemic.
In a few weeks in the spring he almost died of Covid, spending several days in intensive care, rapidly followed by his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, giving birth to a son.
That counts as an eventful year by anyone’s standards and, like him or loathe him, I think you have to give him some credit for resilience during a life-threatening illness and amid unprecedented and chaotic events.
Even this week, Johnson has found the energy to zip over to Brussels for dinner with EU president Ursula Von Der Leyen (unelected and unaccountable, in case you had forgotten) in a last ditch effort to rescue a free trade deal.
That meeting appears to have been a failure with both sides admitting “significant gaps” remain between their relative negotiating positions. At the time of writing the chances of a deal before December 31, when the transition period ends, are receding.
This is largely because the EU has stubbornly refused to treat the UK as an independent nation, such as Canada. Instead they see us as a client colony of their vast anti-democratic empire, and believe they have the right to plunder our resources at will and in perpetuity.
Take, for example, the EU’s negotiating offer on British fisheries. They say that if we allow EU fishing boats free access to our waters, they will give us between 15 and 18 per cent of the fish catch back.
How generous! We end up with less than 20 per cent of our own fish! This isn’t a serious negotiating position between sovereign countries. The French must think they are dealing with a defeated Germany at the Treaty of Versailles.
If we agreed to such punitive terms we would become the only independent nation on the planet with no control over our territorial waters.
So if we do end up without an agreement, much of the blame lies with the obstinacy of the EU. Don’t forget a free trade deal is beneficial to all sides and would create jobs and prosperity on both sides of the Channel.
But the EU isn’t the slightest interested in the welfare of its own citizens, who, of course, have no say in who rules them from Brussels. What matters is the grand imperial European Project – and if livelihoods are destroyed in pursuit of this deluded dream of empire, that is a price EU bureaucrats are prepared to pay (provided it isn’t their own jobs at risk, of course).
But if most of the responsibility for a “no deal” lies in Brussels, some blame should be shared by die-hard Remainers here in the UK.
In 2019 the big majority of Remainers in Parliament could have easily passed Theresa May’s compromise deal, and gained the softest of soft Brexits.
Mrs May’s deal was far from perfect, and I only supported it reluctantly, but it gave both sides in the divisive debate some of what they wanted. Remainers in their arrogance and hubris rejected it out of hand because they believed they could simply reverse Brexit and carry on as though nothing had happened.
The Lib Dem position was to pretend the 2016 vote had never happened – a bit like Bobby Ewing emerging from the shower in Dallas.
In short Remainers bet the farm on being able to stop Brexit – and they lost. Boris’s 80-seat majority is testament to that.
So if, as seems increasingly likely, we end up without a deal, damaging though that is, we should never forget where the real blame lies.
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