Perhaps we’re so hardened, or punch-drunk, after a year of being battered by the pandemic that we don’t quite register how shocking this is. We stand this weekend on the brink of a no-deal crash-out from the European Union: the very outcome that all but the most extreme Brexiters once agreed would be a catastrophe for this country, an outcome our leaders insisted would never happen.
Of course, there might be one last twist. Perhaps Boris Johnson will hail himself as a hero with a breakthrough before the weekend is out. But both he and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European commission, are bracing themselves for failure, the latter counselling Europe’s leaders that no deal is now the likeliest outcome.
Remind yourself that this is a total reversal of everything the Brexiters ever said.
At least one stout Brexiteers, not a million miles away from here, has been shouting for a long time that reversion to WTO rules would be a very decent outcome. For it would allow us to – as no other deal would – revert to unilateral free trade. That state which is to be desired for itself.