Today marks the end of the first year of Brexit - that is, the first year of the UK being outside the EU. It hasn't felt like a full year, mind you, because essentially nothing changed. We simply entered an eleven-month transition period which ended only one month ago, and it's only in the last thirty-one days that the 'Brexit difference' has started to bite.
Even now, for most ordinary people - at least while unnecessary travel is forbidden - the pain seems confined to some delivery delays and (I hear) EU duties being imposed on certain things sent through the post.
The rather more worrying crisis over vaccine supplies seems to have been averted for now. But no doubt it will re-emerge. Or something else will. Britain used to have an unenviable reputation for burocracy, blind self-interest, and shooting its own foot, but the EU is in a higher league altogether.
If only that institution could have been reformed! David Cameron was the last one to try, and he failed dismally. But it always looked like a forlorn hope. The EU did not want to be reformed. It did not want to be diverted from its programmes of standardisation, and that not-so-far-off political dream. It was this as much as anything else that made me vote to get out while we could.
In the long run, I'm not expecting very much to change. The needs of the manufacturer, consumer and traveller will ensure that as much as possible is harmonised between Britain and the EU. I'm all for harmony. I don't want to see a stubborn, mutually destructive standoff.
On the other hand, harmony and co-operation do not mean that Britain has to be Europeanised. I want to keep all the nice things that make living on this side of the Channel so distinctively different. And I think the rest of the world would prefer Britain to be like that. After all, when the virus has ebbed, and the tourists come back, they will want to savour the special British atmosphere, and the things found only here, and not bland substitutes invented in Brussels. And sunnier countries to the south of us will want to remain very different from damp and rainy Britain, so that British people will feel their allure and attraction, and once again flock to their happy holiday hotels, and relax on their golden beaches.
I wonder how historians will come to assess Brexit. As a decisive break with mainland Europe? Or as a just a timely reset?
What about the UK spitting up? An internal Brexit, if you will. Might that not have a greater effect on the future of this country?
How long will it be before Northern Ireland joins with the Republic in all respects? How long before Scotland secedes from the Union? Or Wales gets full nationhood? All this is starting to look inevitable. Does it matter? Personally, I do not mind, so long as every part of the present country ends up responsibly and wisely governed, with the welfare and convenience of its population as the chief ongoing concern.
An interesting ten years lie ahead.