Brexit is not done yet. It probably never will be: there will never come a moment when the thorny question of how best to manage Britain’s relationship with its continental neighbours has been finally settled.
Right now one huge stumbling block is the threat of tariffs on electric cars, which looms in a matter of months. If the UK and EU cannot strike an agreement, tariffs of 10 per cent will shortly kick in on electric vehicles which cross from the continent to Britain or vice versa – that is to say, practically all of them. The extra cost is likely to total thousands of pounds per car.
Rishi Sunak’s Government wants to suspend the looming rules, which are designed to encourage the development of a car battery industry on both sides of the Channel, but Brussels has resisted so far.
It is tempting, and partly reasonable, to pin all the problems with Brexit squarely on the UK, given that we voted to leave.
But in this instance, there is a strong case that EU authorities are being too stubborn for their own good. Even European car companies are begging Brussels to soften the blow.
There are reasons for optimism. Ministers believe that more and more EU member states are shifting to the British position, and a deal may be in sight.
This would be much-needed good news for Mr Sunak, who faces persistent political headwinds. The problem is that if he does score a win here, voters will not notice; not having suffered the consequences of the tariffs going ahead, they will not be grateful that they were cancelled.
This keeps happening. We have a Prime Minister whose main goals all amount to averting disaster, whether on the economy or the NHS or migration. And what is attractive about a vision that amounts only to “things won’t get worse”?