Seriously: this is one of our great competitive strengths.
2020 has not been a year of pride for this Brit. Although it started well with the Greenwich Speech, on the scale of what matters I can't think of anything from Boris Johnson's government that has subsequently been greatly to his credit**, and an awful lot that is utterly disgraceful. (Card-carrying Tory writing here.)
This is, until the lightning-fast regulatory approval and delivery of Covid vaccine, outstripping the rest of the Western world by, what - weeks? months? And how much slower still would they have been if we hadn't set the pace?
This is pragmatic regulation at its very best; and we may hope that it, and we as a nation, will be rewarded. I have frequently lauded Ofgem, the regulator in my own specialist sphere, for its speed, flexibility, practice of consulting properly, willingness to experiment - and to admit shortcomings, and to reiterate swiftly, intelligently and without stupid pride of authorship.
In absolute terms, when you are faced with what seems like a slow response from Ofgem, it's certainly possible to be frustrated. That is, until you talk to anyone working in energy in the EU, where the regulators are slothful, inflexible, uncommunicative, stolid, obtuse and unresponsive. I've lost count of the number of times I've heard continentals say, in open sessions, "they do this already in the UK", or "the British are so much better at this".
It's pretty obvious that in the brave new Covid / "Zero Carbon" world, national flexibility is at a massive premium. The vaccine approval, and a pretty impressive roll-out process, are deeply hopeful signs we are going to make new-found Brexit freedoms tell to our advantage - and in parallel, are going to make the obtuse, Civil-Code-bound federasts squirm.
That's my crumb of comfort at the end of a bleak 2020, and I'm sticking to it. (For now.)
** The defence spending & foreign aid announcements? - Ed