British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his conservatives have been reelected with a larger majority in parliament and they're moving ahead with a departure from the European Union in a so-called "Brexit," but the process of actually exiting the European customs onion is very far from over.
A Brexit has been triggered, but the long and difficult task of negotiating terms of trade and immigration in a post-Brexit world are still ahead and Boris Johnson has set a hard deadline of the end of this year to negotiate their terms.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, however, says negotiating terms by the end of this year will be "impossible."
“The transition time is very, very tight ... so it is basically impossible to negotiate all that I have been mentioning, so we will have to prioritize,” she said.
Johnson has said that Britain will not extend the transition period, and will not seek a deal based on close alignment with EU rules, although his spokesman said trade talks did not need to be completed all at once.
Von der Leyen’s views are widely shared in the EU. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, whose country holds the rotating six-month presidency of the bloc, told reporters that Britain had to be sensible.
In other words, the possibility of a hard, no-deal "Brexit" is still with us for as long as it takes to either negotiate their terms of divorce or Boris Johnson agrees to a new deadline just as he did in the fall of 2019.
The immediate crisis of Brexit and what it means for the global economy has retreated for the moment, but it will be with us again later this year when the holidays return and Britain is no closer to securing a deal that won't destroy their economy. The biggest questions about access to the European Union's 500 million consumers and the movement of labor between the United Kingdom and mainland Europe have not been answered. Businesses that were uncertain about their future several months ago are not any closer to that certainty even though the Brexit has finally been triggered.