While the UK grows in self confidence, the EU is being shown up as the incompetent organisation it is.
I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been lectured over the last few years about how in all its might and power, the EU would bulldoze the UK after Brexit. As the months of negotiation with the EU, characterised by indecision and weakness in the May Government, turned into years, it was hard to disagree.
But even in the teeth of Covid, it is becoming apparent that the UK is re-discovering its national self-confidence.
In fact, nothing exemplifies this growth as much as the decision Boris Johnson made that the UK would buy its own Covid vaccines. It was a bold thing to do, and, considering most of the establishment was against him, brave.
Remember how he was warned by so many (including Keir Starmer) that if the UK had the nationalistic temerity to go it alone on vaccines, we would be left bobbing along in the EU’s wake? The attacks were shrill, repetitive, formulaic, but as it turns out, very wrong.
Those critics look rather silly now. But nothing compared to the EU.
The EU’s failure to strike early, binding contracts with the vaccine companies has come back to haunt them. Unable to accept their failure, the Commission has tried to scapegoat the UK.
First they first tried to close the European border with the UK, even invoking article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol. But shaken by the uproar that followed, they had to step back.
Then, we had the embarrassing spectacle of Merkel and Macron falsely claiming that AstraZeneca’s vaccine isn't effective in those over 60 - a claim which was retracted, but not quickly enough.
Meanwhile, the UK continues to be one of the world’s most successful countries in vaccinating its public. And as we recover from the pandemic, we have set our sights far away from the shores of the EU. With our new found self-belief, we have published an integrated review, setting out the UK’s global priorities.
Quietly, we have been forging trade deals with more and more countries and now we’ve even set our sights on membership of the Trans Pacific Partnership. In line with this new global ambition, the Government plans to increase defence spending, and will even send Royal navy ships to the far east, including an aircraft carrier East of Suez, as a show of solidarity in the face of the growing threat from China.
All this is the mark of a growing, nimble nation, finally at ease with itself.
Meanwhile, from where I’m standing, the EU is looking more and more like an incompetent organisation full of self-doubt than a Levithian threat to the UK. Small wonder that Bildt, the German tabloid, had a recent headline - “We envy you Britain.”