My time in Europe transformed my outlook; those who think Brexit is all about trade deals ignore what else was at stake

The prime minister offered the country a “feast” this Christmas but many of us still haven’t been able to digest it. The truth is it was never very appetising, not so much an oven-ready treat as a cheap ready meal. Boris Johnson’s trade deal does not bring “glad tidings of great joy” but final confirmation that a special relationship has been turned into a purely transactional one.

To the mercantilist Brexiteers, any losses incurred are mere trifles. Take the end of the Erasmus scheme, which enabled students to spend time in other member states’ universities. Compared with fish quotas and level playing fields this may seem like small fry. But a feast without the trimmings is just another meal, and a trade deal without cultural ties makes for a much shallower relationship with our European neighbours.

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