FRIDAY, January 1, 2021 was a sad day. Britain’s departure from Europe remains a tragic national error. We have removed ourselves from a union that was good for this country and the world.

At least the tensions, failure of government and inequalities which will continue can no longer be blamed on the EU. The buck stops with sovereignty! And sovereignty should not be confused with ideas of power and greatness, as Boris Johnson bombastically tends to do.

The political tensions will not disappear. Leaving the EU was opposed by majorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland, London and other major cities, as well as by most young people and most graduates. Whatever the overall verdict of 2016, this is still a country divided over Europe. Getting Brexit done is mere fantasy. It is a solution that creates new historic problems.

Many of the most extreme Brexit supporters in 2016, to their shame, openly expressed the hope that the UK’s departure would engineer the break-up of the EU! But we see just the opposite. The unity of the EU27 has been enhanced while we see growing disunity of the UK4 over the issue. The break-up of Britain is in prospect and an awful price to pay.

So Brexit is done. But not over. All kinds of future conflict lie ahead. The fine print of the agreement was totally ignored in Wednesday’s “scrutiny” in Parliament, and now we will have to work through immigration controls, regulatory alignment maintenance, service industry status, fishing, database access, defence co-operation and, above all, Northern Ireland’s position.

The reality is that we can never cease to engage with Europe and will never cease to be Europeans.

D Duell, Durham.