As we creep hesitantly into a new year, there are fears that 2020 might be a repeat of 2019. Well, the trade talks with the EU haven't even begun yet, and they'll be a nightmare, won't they? Nicola Sturgeon will be calling for Indyref2 almost daily. Boris Johnson will be telling his lies by the hour. It'll be deja vu all over again.

Actually, no. There may well be some apparent similarities with the year gone by, but politics will not be conducted at the same intensity in 2020. Boris Johnson wants to get Brexit off the headlines and move on.

That is, after the ratification of the Withdrawal Treaty next month. Joy will be unconfined. Bells will ring and children will sing praises to Boris for leading Britain out of the wilderness. Or perhaps they won't.

Labour and die-hard Remainers will also be inclined to play down the Brexit departure date. Labour, because it is just too painful and they still lack a policy on Europe. The LibDems and Remainers because they'd rather pretend it hasn't actually happened. Nicola Sturgeon because she wants to talk about independence.

She will continue to demand that Scotland's interests are represented in the negotiations with Brussels. But both the UK and the EU want to get Brexit off the table, so they will likely put together a quick and dirty tariff-free deal by July, leaving all the complex stuff about “dynamic alignment” with EU regulations for the future. Trade talks are actually very boring, and now that Brexit is a fait accompli, public interest is likely to wane.

Politics will look and sound very different in 2020. A Prime Minister with an 80-seat majority can pretty much get their own way. Last year, Theresa May suffered the biggest defeats in parliamentary history over her Withdrawal Bill. Yet it sailed through the Commons largely unchanged before Christmas.

We've spent most of the past decade with unstable coalitions in various states of decomposition. Late-night dramas in the Commons with knife-edge votes and revolting backbenchers have been attracting Netflix-level viewing figures. Not any more. The Commons will become boring again.

Most of the characters from the Brexit crisis, Ken Clarke, Anna Soubry, Dominic Grieve, Chuka Umunna, are in the dustbin of history. The most visible presence, Speaker John Bercow, is now doing impressions of himself on the US after-dinner speaking circuit.

And of course, Jeremy Corbyn will be spending a well-earned retirement in his allotment. That is, if he can be driven from the leadership. It came as something of a surprise to see the Labour leader delivering his Christmas address, in which he called for a period of “reflection”. Most Labour MPs would like him to go and reflect somewhere else.

This is so that they can get on with the serious business of fighting over the succession. There are at least three factions. The Momentum activists, backing Rebecca Long Bailey; the Remain-supporting parliamentary establishment of Keir Starmer; and the pro-Brexit left, including Lisa Nandy. It's going to be quite a tussle.

There are profound ideological and policy issues to resolve along the way. Labour's inquest on its worst election result since 1935 has only just begun. Most Labour politicians are consoling themselves with the usual excuses: “It was the Murdoch press... we won the argument...voters are racist". But they will have to recognise that they didn't win the argument, that Britain isn't turning fascist and that, in the age of left-wing-dominated social media, blaming newspapers with collapsing circulations makes little sense.

Hope springs among die-hard Remainers, like the FBPE philosopher A.C. Grayling, that the voters will in 2020 realise they've been duped and will beg to be allowed back into the arms of Europe. They won’t. No one will be talking about rejoining the EU except on Twitter. The People's Vote campaign disintegrated in acrimony before Christmas. Even the Liberal Democrats, the only Rejoin party, will be subdued. Advocating revoking A50 led to their virtual political extinction. They’ll be busy finding a replacement for Jo Swinson.

With the UK parties in disarray, the focus of opposition will shift north, to Scotland, and the other victor of the 2019 General Election, Nicola Sturgeon. There will be much agitation on social media over Indyref2, and many All Under One Banner marches demanding the referendum Nicola Sturgeon keeps promising for autumn 2020. But she knows that it isn't going to happen this year, or next for that matter.

Following Boris Johnson's outright rejection of her request for a Section 30 Order there is likely to be a fight of some sort in the courts. The SNP could attempt a judicial review on the grounds that she has a mandate to hold a referendum, and a precedent from the Edinburgh Agreement in 2012. But that is unlikely to carry much weight, since it is a political decision whether and when to agree a Section 30 Order triggering a legally-binding referendum.

So the Scottish Government may try to turn the tables by passing a bill to hold a referendum and then challenging the Supreme Court to overturn it. Indyref optimists hope that Lady Hale of the spider brooch will wag a finger at Boris and say the PM has given “no good reason” for denying a Section 30, as she did over his prorogation of parliament. But Lady Hale has retired and it is most unlikely that the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom will do anything to facilitate the disintegration of it. Judges will argue, as they did over the Consent Bill, that sovereignty resides ultimately with Westminster.

If the Scottish Government goes ahead anyway, the referendum would be boycotted by Unionists and Boris Johnson will refuse to recognise it. But that is most unlikely since Nicola Sturgeon has made clear she will not entertain any illegal referendums. So expect a lot of noise over Indyref2 but very little action. The campaign for the 2021 Scottish parliamentary elections will begin instead.

However, there will be one matter that will be resolved by the courts and could have an impact on the First Minister’s fate. That is the trial of one Alex Salmond on charges of attempted rape and sexual assault.

Given the number of charges it may seem like he is bang to rights. But some senior nationalists, not all of them friends of Salmond, think that he will be acquitted of these charges.

There is also online chatter that he’s been set up. That may sound more like the script for a political thriller than political reality.

Salmond has of course beaten the Scottish Government once already in the Court of Session. Last year he won £500,000 in damages over senior civil servant Leslie Evans' conduct of the original inquiry into his alleged sexual offences. He has assembled a powerful legal team led by Gordon Jackson QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and a former Labour MSP.

He has made clear he will not spare anyone's reputations in his bid to clear his name. The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has questions to answer about unminuted meetings she had with Salmond, prior to his being charged. The significance of that will become clear as the court case proceeds.

However, it seems unlikely that the Salmond case will greatly alter the political situation in Scotland or the SNP's grip on politics north of the Border. The trial will be a sideshow in a year in which not very much changes. Even the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow may be an anticlimax, just like COP 25 in Madrid. Though we can expect Greta Thunberg to take up residence in the city throughout the autumn.

Last month's climate deadlock in Madrid aroused surprisingly little outrage from environmental radicals like Extinction Rebellion. This is possibly because the focus of climate controversy has shifted to the global south. Small island states have begun calling out coal-powered superstates like China and India, and not just the US and Europe. It's not a simple North v South equation any more.

Of course Donald Trump will continue to diss the whole climate crisis as a conspiracy to undermine the US economy. The Orange One seems likely remain resident in the White House after the Presidential elections in November – to the dismay of the civilised world. At any rate, the Democratic Party has so far failed to come up with a charismatic contender. The favourite for the nomination is 77-year old Joe Biden.

In 2020, normal politics will be resumed. Three years of Brexit has led to the neglect of many issues – the NHS, social care, Holyrood's finances, student debt, educational underperformance. Who could have predicted that Scotland's biggest hospital, the Queen Elizabeth, would have been one of the biggest scandals in 2019? Well, some people probably did.

In 2020 there'll surely be no shortage of similar unpredictable scandals, and people saying: told you so.