Britain technically has until the end of this year to negotiate new terms of trade and immigration with the European Union (EU) before exiting the bloc's customs union and single market, but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just cut that deadline in half.
Member nations of the EU recently voted to approve a set of minimum standards and rules they will accept while negotiating with Britain and Johnson's government has just done the same.
The British government's blueprint for negotiations says they will only negotiate until June after which time they'll start preparing for a hard break with no deal.
Having accepted that British businesses will encounter new “frictions” in trade with the bloc outside its single market and customs union, the government has made its stance clear - self-determination must trump economic concerns.
So if, by June, “good progress” has not been made on Britain’s demand for what it calls a “standard” free trade agreement or even on the “least controversial areas” of the talks, London said it would focus on preparations for a sharp break with the EU.
“At the end of the transition period on the 31st of December, the United Kingdom will fully recover its economic and political independence,” cabinet office minister Michael Gove told parliament as he unveiled the mandate.
So, that leaves about three and a half months to replace 50 years of inseparable economic ties.
They could be bluffing and will announce that "progress" has been made by June even if that's not necessarily true, but my gut says they're serious this time. The Brexit has already been triggered and Johnson has the governing majority of conservatives he needs to finally break from the European Union. There's very little reason for him to stop now aside from, you know, any concern that the British economy will be destroyed; a concern that Johnson does not outwardly appear to share.
The only thing that stopped Boris Johnson from going through with a hard Brexit last fall was a divided parliament that didn't want it on their record. It remains to be seen if there are enough members of the current parliament concerned about the impact on their own neighborhoods to stop it from happening again.