The turning point was probably when both the German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron refused to take UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s telephone calls. It is extraordinary that since the passing of the UK referendum to leave the EU, British pro-Brexit politicians have believed that at the end of the day, it would be the powerful individual member states that would break ranks and negotiate in their own interests rather than be fully represented in the negotiations by the EU Commission.

This attitude continued a well-established trend. About a year before the COVID-19 lock-down, I attended a briefing in London given by the then UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural affairs who also has responsibility for agriculture. I was astonished to hear the Commission being dismissed as simply a civil service and that it was to be expected that after a few conversations with the main member states, the problems would be solved.