As we continue to wait, I’ve found my mind wandering and pondering Brexit… and its assault on the English language.
Firstly, that very word itself, which 15 years ago might have plausibly sounded like it might be the component in a fridge freezer, rather than the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Right now, I’m reminded that the word “imminent” has, over the last four and a half years, become the most elastic piece of vocabulary imaginable.
Although, come to think of it, “deadline” runs it close.
And then there is the boat load full of Brexit clichés.
“Five to midnight.”
Apparently colourful phrases, increasingly shorn of meaning, bobbing around in an ocean of words, while we wait for the only ones that really matter.
With the EU making up nearly half of UK trade, an agreement with the bloc is key.
But the UK is also aiming to do its own trade deals with other countries around the world.
As an EU member, the UK was automatically part of about 40 trade deals which the EU had with more than 70 countries. In 2018, these deals represented about 11% of total UK trade.
So far, 29 of these existing deals, covering 58 countries or territories, have been rolled over and will start on 1 January 2021. The latest deal to be struck was with Mexico on 15 December.
Talks are still ongoing with a further 10 countries or blocs – but many of the most important agreements have been done.
The UK government has also signed a new trade agreement with Japan, which means that 99% of UK exports there will be free of tariffs. It is very similar to the EU’s own deal with Japan.
The government is also holding trade talks with countries that do not currently have EU trade deals, such as the US, Australia and New Zealand.