Brexit reveals the government’s ideological commitment to take the country back to where Margaret Thatcher left it

Britain’s departure from the EU under Boris Johnson with – or without – a free trade deal will dim prospects for the UK next year. At best the prime minister will secure a deal at the last minute that eliminates tariffs on trade. There will be disruption, price hikes, protests and perhaps a clash on the seas. Whatever the losses, the prime minister thinks they will evaporate in the sun-filled freedom to depart from the EU’s regulatory rulebook. For all the talk of greater state intervention, Mr Johnson has not changed his spots. We have a rightwing government with a strong ideological commitment to take the country back to where Margaret Thatcher left it.

That means restoring the executive to pre-eminence by curbing the judiciary, undoing devolution and installing cronies in powerful positions. The country ought to expect more squeezing of the poor. Ministers meanwhile seem untroubled by the idea that business elites entering England should be exempt from quarantine rules that force the rest of us to self-isolate. Aside from bromides, the government offers little to the jobless in the north of England, where the Institute for Public Policy Research (North) says unemployment is at its worst since the mid-1990s.

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