So what exactly was Brexit for?

It seems that now we have this very thin deal where at least we are not on WTO terms but we still have very much less than we used to – so where exactly is the advantage?

I agree with Lord Heseltine: “We must welcome the news that Brexit does not end in the chaos of no deal, but only with the sense of relief of a condemned man informed that his execution has been commuted to a life sentence.”

And how is this deal different to May’s deal? Only that hers refused to accept a border between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain – something Johnson said he would never accept either. He broke his promise. Of course. In effect the UK paperless trading zone is now smaller than it has ever been because not even all the UK has ‘frictionless’ trade. The UK’s free trade zone is in fact now smaller than the UK itself.

Yes Britain has got free trade with the EU, but only at the price of keeping in harmony with EU regulations, who are, let us not forget, in Ivan Rogers phrase, a ‘regulatory superpower’.

Once the UK steps out of line it goes to arbitration – not the European Court of Justice, it appears, but a multitude of specialist resolution bodies. So the UK avoids tariffs now in exchange for tariffs later – if it doesn’t stay in line with EU regulations. What exactly is the point? Sovereignty? Because that is no sovereignty at all. These regulations are ones to which the UK had substantial input, yet now it will have none and simply has to decide to take it or leave it. And if it leaves it it’ll get tariffs.

How any of this can be construed as beneficial to UK interests or its citizens, I cannot fathom.

One grocer is supposed to have commented that it was simply “the biggest imposition of red tape in 50 years”. He might have added that UK citizens have gained this red tape and so additional costs, in return for losing EU citizenship and the right to live and work in 27 other European countries.

Those are some disadvantages after four and a half years of fractious negotiation…

If only we’d been told before the referendum…

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