Within the past hour it has been announced that a trade deal between the UK and the EU has been concluded. I say 'concluded' but of course all we have is agreement at the top level, and ratification by the governments must follow. Nonetheless, it enables all of us who believe in the benefits of trade, co-operation and friendship between nations to breathe a huge sigh of relief. The alternative - trading on WTO rules, tariffs and quotas and endless red tape (though there will be plenty of that anyway) and enormous scope for arguments, bans, blockades etc - was regarded by pretty well everyone as unthinkable. Not that this prevented a hard core of nutters from desiring it and no doubt the conspiracy theorists will be hard at work linking the deal with covid-19 and arguing that any deal at all which entails a British prime minister signing the same document as a foreigner must be a betrayal of our sovereignty.
The Brexit referendum was held in the summer of 2016. Here we are, four and half years later and on the verge of completing the exit procedure and only now do we have a trade deal that establishes how business is to take place from 1st January. It is truly staggering that it has taken so long to bring about something that everyone (bar the nutters) profoundly wished. Imagine if this lackadaisical approach had applied to other great events in history, such as this one ...
Scene: The Forum in Ancient Rome. Around lunchtime. Enter a group of senators gingerly testing the sharpness of their daggers and wincing a bit.
Brutus: We agreed, are we not? Today, the Ides of March, we strike at tyranny and bring down Caesar!
Cassius: All of us have sworn to act without hesitation for the good of Rome! Only death can stop us! It must be now! It shall be now!
Decimus Brutus: Death to Caesar and glory to the Roman republic!
Cinna: Er, hold on a second chaps, we still haven't agreed on what colour our flag should be. I still say it should be green.
Casca: Red. My constituents will accept nothing less.
Trebonius: Only if it has a yellow diagonal.
Cassius: Yellow with grey spots. My final offer.
Casca: Impossible. I've been utterly reasonable so far about the order of stabbing and who gets to stand next to Brutus at the press conference afterwards but yellow is a step too far. I'm sorry, I'm withdrawing back to Pompeii.
Trebonius: Then I too withdraw to my estates in Sicily.
Brutus: Ok, alright, let's calm down. I'll send out for some pizzas and we can have a rethink. Ides of March next year alright for everyone?