Britain and Europe still cannot reach a trade agreement – in fact, they can’t even seem to agree how close one is to being signed. What’s certain, however, is that the transition period will end this month and Brexit proper will begin. Britain’s departure from the EU should not be seen as a shock, argues historian Robert Tombs, but instead a return to the geopolitical and historical norm for our island. It’s a very interesting read. Only three areas have managed to stay in Tier 1 of the coronavirus restrictions. That has made one of them, the Isle of Wight, as Helen Ochyra discovers, a haven of relative normality. She finds an island long-transformed from its reputation for backwardness and explains why it should be your next staycation destination. (New Tier restriction levels across England were announced today. Use our postcode Covid checker to find out what Tier your region is in.) It’s not easy to stay fashionable from year to year, let alone for decades at a time. Add on a pandemic that has confined us to our homes and you might say it’s impossible. Yet, writes Annabel Jones, the Queen has not only managed it but remains a style icon, even for women half her age. Annabel explains the many ways in which the Queen has influenced fashion this year. George Smiley is, to most eyes, the antithesis of that other legend of literary and silver-screen espionage, James Bond. Scratch beneath the very different surfaces, however, and the two characters are hinting at similar themes of patriotism, crumbling national prestige and moral struggles, writes Susannah Goldsbrough in a fascinating piece. Do you remember the Nineties well? It’s hard to believe how long ago they were and how much has, and hasn’t, changed. London, in particular, was a very different place three decades ago, and to transport you there Greg Dickinson has put together a nostalgia-infused tour of the capital from 1990 to the turn of the millennium. Finally, with all the doom and gloom this winter, it’s important to remember to look on the bright side from time to time. If you knew where to look though, there was plenty of it in 2020. Harriet Barber rounds up the good news of 2020, from scientific breakthroughs and political firsts to mating pandas and rebounding Tasmanian devils. If you'd like to read more positive news, then I'd suggest signing up for our Good News Newsletter. That way, you'll receive uplifting stories sent directly to your inbox, twice a week.