It is unlikely that the prime minister will look back on the past 12 months with much fondness, but he would be justified in feeling a degree of satisfaction. After an uncertain start to handling the pandemic, his government is basking in the glow of a successful vaccination programme. The easing of lockdown is proceeding absurdly slowly, but most people see an end in sight. They may not begrudge the government for its craven caution in keeping swathes of the economy effectively closed for a few more weeks.
As the country slowly edges back towards something approaching normality, so Boris Johnson’s attention can begin to shift from the crisis management of the pandemic to doubling down on his greatest political triumph: getting Brexit done. His visit next week to India has already been curtailed because of the troubles with Covid-19 on the sub-continent.
Nevertheless, the trip provides an ideal platform for Johnson to rediscover and underscore his free trade credentials. His administration has ensured that our departure from the European Union is a widely accepted reality. Any talk of reversing it is now confined to a tiny handful of fringe political players. But an ambitious Johnson will want to maximise the potential of the UK’s newfound ability to determine its own trading arrangements, rather than simply celebrate this return of sovereignty as an abstract concept.