Johnson has little hope of securing a trade deal with Europe in 12 months
Although it seems inevitable that the divorce between the UK and the EU will be formalised on January 31, finalising the new trade agreement between the two sides looks likely to be more complicated and will pay no heed to Johnson’s 80 strong majority, which makes his position at Westminster so strong.
Of course Europe does need the UK, for its power and influence. As a military power, with a seat on the UN Security Council, and also as a force to be reckoned with economically, the new Commission president von der Leyen will want to find a good deal for the bloc herself.
Yesterday, von der Leyen met Johnson at Downing Street for the first time, and there was a friendly air about the proceedings with the president emphasising that, the two sides would remain the “best of friends and partners”.
However, for all the conciliatory and diplomatic rhetoric, commentators were quick to observe that all would not necessarily be plain-sailing, as the EU boss emphasised that, “with every choice comes a consequence”.
Clearly it is not to the EU’s advantage to make being outside the EU as lucrative as being in it, otherwise the whole European Community would fall apart.
Much of the pressure in the next year will come from trying to settle all areas of concern in just 12 months.
Johnson has been bullish about this transition period but no-one can see how this will be achieved, especially in sensitive areas like fishing and agriculture.
Although the PM will be puffed up by his new power in Westminster his strutting may well be minimised by Brussels as they protect their own interests.
The parliamentary opposition parties may well have to rely on von der Leyen and her colleagues to take over where they left pre the general election.
A trade deal by the end of 2020, looks very hard to achieve.
In her own words, this is about "old friends, new beginnings." https://t.co/R9u8RLPoQ2