On Hogmanay 2018, Piers Morgan tweeted his New Year’s resolution: to keep on being “annoying, argumentative & insufferably right about everything”. He then offered: “Zero apologies in advance to the whiny PC-crazed snowflake imbeciles who will be horrifically offended by absolutely everything I say or write.”

The 55-year-old journalist and Good Morning Britain presenter will happily take on anyone, anywhere. In the past year, he’s enraged parts of the left with his take on trans rights and backing Boris Johnson’s Brexit agenda, despite voting Remain in 2016. He’s since given the same treatment to the pro-Boris right, and appears to have been boycotted by the UK Government after savaging their handling of the pandemic.

“It’s been a curious year,” he muses. “In December, I was hugely popular with Boris fans and Brexiteers, but then during the pandemic, I began to be heavily critical of the Government, and all my Brexiteer fans suddenly started to hate me. The liberals that had taken a dim view of me not joining the ‘remoaner’ campaign all started to fall in love with me again.”

His new book, Wake Up, is likely to swing the dial back again, and he’s already “expecting some horrific reviews from the ‘wokies’”, though he adds: “The history of ‘woke’ is completely laudable. It’s about having an awareness of social and racial injustice, and if that was all it was, I’d be woke myself. But it’s been completely hijacked, and ultra-woke liberalism is bordering on fascism.”

Formerly editor of the Daily Mirror, Morgan identifies as a “liberal” but thinks liberals should “go back to being liberal”. He explains: “There’s been a lot written by liberals about how the right-wing are intolerable, intransigent, and self-righteous, but many liberals are now behaving the same way or worse. Everything is offensive to the ‘wokies’, and they don’t believe in freedom of speech.”

On the page and in person, Morgan is as strident as you’d expect. Pugnacious and polemical, his book barrels along at a scorching pace, taking aim at everything from cancel culture and veganism, to the role of modern masculinity. Not overly troubled by self-doubt, Morgan embraces his role as provocateur. “I’m a deliberate provocateur – my whole life is spent inspiring arguments. But I’ve got Susanna Reid next to me, who disagrees with me all the time. We’re a perfect template for liberals – you should able to passionately debate everything, but remain friends.”

He’s been called plenty of nasty names but sees himself as one of the good guys, “albeit with flaws”. In person, he is courtesy incarnate, more considered if no less confident than the bullish battering ram that graces morning television.

Though the culture war stuff will doubtless claim a lot of column inches, Morgan reserves perhaps his strongest language for the UK Government. “Their incompetence has made me very angry, and the boycott is a pathetic, cowardly dereliction of public duty to our viewers. I make no apology for going after them so hard, because we’ve had the worst death toll in Europe, and the worst economic record. Frankly, it couldn’t be any worse.”

Morgan’s prose is certainly impassioned, but there will inevitably be allegations of hypocrisy. He slams “woke” hysteria, but hit the roof when Greggs released a vegan sausage roll. He staunchly defends nuanced discourse, but calls his opponents “purple-haired, ring-nosed, meat-hating, man-detesting lunatics”.

To his credit, he doesn’t shirk criticism. “I’m not claiming to be Mr Perfect – I’m totally aware that I can be abrasive and obnoxious. Sometimes I join in the pile-ons, sometimes I go a bit over the top, and in that sense, I have been part of the problem.

“But I’m absolutely prepared to listen to people and debate with them, then not fall out with them at the end. I’d be a hypocrite if I wanted to cancel people. I’ll defend my right to hate vegan sausage rolls for the rest of my natural life, but I don’t want to ban people from eating them.”

He’s similarly philosophical on allegations of bullying, which he does not dismiss out of hand. “I don’t reject it completely. The key thing is to always punch up, not down, and I do look back at certain debates and think, ‘That person didn’t really have enough tools to compete’. That’s never a good look, and I’ve tried to evolve.”

When you do look back on his debates – and boy, are there a lot of them – what stands out most is his relentless energy. Whether sparring on social media or powering through crack-of-dawn production meetings, Morgan lives at a mile a minute, and his commitment and ability are hard to question.

“I think every journalist is exhausted this year,” he says, “but there’s no doubt 2020 is exhilarating from a news point of view. If news is your trade, you’ll never have a bigger story than this.”

Morgan was born in East Sussex in 1965, and became the youngest UK newspaper editor when he took over at the News of the World aged 28. He then spent nine years helming the Daily Mirror, winning Newspaper of the Year in 2001, but was sacked three years later.

Victory in America’s The Celebrity Apprentice brought a much-debated friendship with Donald Trump, which went on to include TV interviews, fulsome praise, searing criticism, and finally Trump unfollowing Morgan on Twitter. “I don’t see myself as a political animal,” he says, “I see myself as a journalist, and despite being a friend of his, I’ve always tried to be fair-minded.”

His American adventure continued with a CNN talk show, before he returned to the UK to host Good Morning Britain. “I like the British media best,” he says, “the Americans think they have the best media in the world, but they think they have the best everything in the world. Coming back has been fantastic. I’ve loved breakfast TV more than I ever thought I would.”

Given his complaints about the present, Morgan is remarkably positive about the future. “Things will get worse before they get better, but I’m an eternal optimist. I say to people ‘I know it’s tough, but this will be over, and when it is, head to your favourite pub, have a curry, drink 10 pints and toast freedom.”

If he has any thoughts in the meantime, he’ll let you know.

Wake Up: Why The World Has Gone Nuts by Piers Morgan, Harper Collins, £20