BREXIT – you’re sick of it, I know. But just think how I feel, having to write about it, week in week out since the EU referendum turned politics upside down. Looking back over a year’s output is never easy for columnists because you realise how often you’ve been writing about essentially the same issues. But there has never been a political year like 2018, in which the entire country got stuck in a Brexit groove – and not in a good way.

Everything else has been on hold.

Had it not been for Brexit there would, I think, have been much more about the state of the NHS. I keep hearing of people having to go private because they can’t get elective surgery – that’s hips and knees – without waiting in agony for a year. There’s been a crisis of recruitment, with GPs retiring early and medical staff returning to Europe because of Brexit. Health boards are going bust and Audit Scotland pronounced the Scottish NHS “financially unsustainable” in October.

The merger of social care and healthcare has not generated the economies of scale and integration many hoped for. Scotland will share in the extra £20 billion for the NHS announced in the UK Budget – but that doesn’t really amount to much in a service that still uses fax machines and pagers.

The ongoing disaster that is Universal Credit would have been a huge political story in 2018 had it not been for the fog of Brexit. It’s pretty clear that the increased number of rough sleepers is largely down to a combination of intolerant landlords, sanctions and benefit delays, which leave people temporarily bereft.

The Trussell Trust says that use of foodbanks has risen by more than 50% thanks largely to the new benefit system. Yet the Government has placed badly-needed reforms on hold as part of its no-deal Brexit planning. The Scottish Government has just taken on greater responsibility for welfare and is under intense pressure from charities to mitigate the impact of Universal Credit.

Obsessed with Brexit, we all but forgot that there is a war going on in Europe: in the Donbass region of Ukraine. The Ukraine government recently imposed martial law prior to an expected crackdown on pro-Russian separatists.

Meanwhile, Putin has placed hundreds of battle tanks on the border. Nato is reportedly supplying arms to the pro-Western Poroshenko government in Kiev, so any Russian invasion could ignite the most serious conflict in Europe since the Second World War.

Then, out of the blue, Donald Trump pulls US troops out of Syria and we suddenly remember that we’ve given hardly a thought all year to what’s been happening in the Middle East and the war against Isis. It is now recognised that allied bombing of Raqqa was just as deadly to civilians as the widely-condemned Russian bombing of Aleppo. Amnesty International says the British and US strikes may have amounted to war crimes.

Donald Trump continued his trade wars in 2018. Were it not for the Brexit blinkers we’d probably be preparing to deal with the next economic recession, which many economists seem convinced is coming. There is now a deadly combination of Trump wars, overcapacity, and public and private debt weighing down the global economy. You may not have noticed but one of the biggest stock-market booms in history has just come to a crashing end.

The focus is on the beef between China and America, but the situation in the European Union is not reassuring. There was a potentially disastrous standoff between the Italian populist government of deputy Matteo Salvini and the EU this month, which echoed the Greek crisis of 2010. A sovereign debt crisis looms as Italian debt rises beyond 130% of GDP. Central banks have little in their armoury left to deal with another recession, after a full decade of zero interest rates and quantitative easing.

The internet has destroyed most of the high street, the newspaper industry, terrestrial broadcasting and is now eating itself, with Google and Facebook mired in scandals over surveillance capitalism. The tech giants finally lost their progressive gloss in 2018.

Demands for greater regulation grew ever louder following revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s targeted advertising during the Brexit referendum. Much of this algorithmic activity was allegedly financed by “dark money” from right-wing plutocrats. The Guardian’s intrepid tech reporter, Carole Cadwalladr, claimed collusion between Brexiters and the Kremlin trying to destabilise our politics.

However, it emerged this month that British intelligence spooks have been conducting their own psyops programme through a company registered in, of all places, Auchtermuchty. The Integrity Initiative has reportedly been enlisting journalists to help conduct a retaliatory social media campaign against the Kremlin. This seems to have mainly involved smearing Jeremy Corbyn and his communications director, Seumus Milne, as Kremlin shills. I can confirm that the Integrity Initiative hasn't approached me – yet.

Meanwhile, China is becoming a huge player in the “cognitive-military complex” as the new hybrid warfare is being called. The Communist state stands accused of all manner of digital jiggery-pokery, online warfare and industrial espionage. The FBI warned this month that the cybersecurity threat from China – spying, hacking and so forth – is worse than anything Putin’s Fancy Bears have been up to. The Chinese tech giant Huawei has been banned from selling its 5G mobile phone equipment to America, Canada and New Zealand because it is feared there could be security issues.

A Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested by the Canadian government this month, provoking number of retaliatory detentions of Canadians by the Chinese.

Huawei is now the biggest telecoms equipment company in the world and works hand-in-glove with the Communist regime, including on its seriously scary social engineering programmes: Social Credit. This assigns a digital trust score to every one of China’s 1.4 billion citizens, based on their behaviour under constant video surveillance. It is an algorithmic dictatorship, a true digital dystopia, straight out of Black Mirror.

There’s no sign of the government wishing to emulate this here, though there have been some worrying developments, such as the proposals to make misogyny and other forms of behaviour illegal under hate crime laws.

The police are now recording as “hate incidents” jokes, abusive remarks and accusations of transphobia. It may not be long before our digital devices like Alexa are checking on whether or not we use hate speech in our homes – they’re already said to be eavesdropping on us for commercial purposes

And Scotland? Well, perhaps the greatest casualty of Brexit has been Scottish politics, which practically ground to a halt in 2018. The Scottish Parliament’s powers have been undermined by two Supreme Court rulings relating to Brexit.

The Sewel Convention is no more, and the Scottish Government has been put firmly in its place over its Continuity Bill, which tried to oppose the “power grab” of responsibilities repatriated from Brussels. Westminster remains sovereign over all matters, and possesses “unqualified legislative power”, as the Law Lords ruled.

No-one is even talking of a Scottish independence referendum any more, since it would simply be rejected by the UK Government. Scotland is being dragged kicking and screaming out of the European Union, and there seems nothing Nicola Sturgeon can do about it.

At least, not until the Brexit clusterburach is finally resolved.