The rise and rise of Dishy Rishi

Rishi Sunak, the son-in-law of Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy and the MP from Richmond, Yorkshire, since 2015, was virtually unknown even a year ago. “Just five out of 1,191 named Rishi Sunak” in a poll conducted in December 2019 by Tim Bale, a professor of politics at the Queen Mary University.

Brexit learning

Half a decade of the British cohabitating with their Continental cousins has now ended, launching the UK on a path of its own making, free from EU laws, able to strike trade agreements with other countries around the world, and reshape its economy, society and governance structures.

One phase of Brexit ends, but others will come soon

The UK was adamant throughout the negotiations that it be treated as a sovereign equal of the EU and have its independence respected. This was particularly important when it came to fishing rights – one of the last issues to be resolved.

Relief in Europe

The European Commission President, Ms Ursula von der Leyen characterised it as fair and balanced. More important, she said it was the “right and responsible thing for both sides to do.”

European gloom

Fearing lockdowns to coincide with Christmas, Italian shoppers came out in droves in several cities on Sunday, forcing authorities to block off roads and tourist attractions.

Still unresolved

Britain left the EU on January 31 and has been in transition thereafter with existing rules in place until the end of the year. The costs of a no-deal Brexit could be enormous, with some analysts pointing at a drop in Britain’s GDP of between 1.5 and 2 percentage points.

Fish and chips

Yet the clock is ticking and rather menacingly as 31 December, the date by which parliaments in London and Brussels must endorse a trade deal, approaches.

Post-Brexit discord

The two have accused their government of “embarrassing” the UK by seeking the power to change the details of a treaty agreed last year with the EU. Happily for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the crisis may have blown over for now with his controversial bill having cleared its first parliamentary hurdle by winning the first House of Commons vote by 340 to 263 votes.