Although British Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself was nearly killed by the novel coronavirus, and even though Britain is among the countries hit the hardest by the pandemic, it's not going to stop them from crashing out of the European Union at the worst possible time.
Negotiations for a comprehensive trade deal to replace Britain's free access to the European customs union were effectively canceled by the emergence of the pandemic, but the British government says they won't extend the deadline for leaving the customs union.
“Extending the transition would prolong business uncertainty,” government spokesman James Slack said on a call with reporters on Thursday, referring to the continuity period due to end on Dec. 31. “U.K. business needs to know what its future trading arrangements will be and how to adapt to them. It’s better to be clear now.”
The coronavirus has forced the two sides to put trade negotiations on hold and left businesses reeling, prompting many executives to call for an extension to the post-Brexit transition period. Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, both sides have until June to propose a postponement. It would require mutual agreement to take effect.
If they're still somehow worried about "business uncertainty" at a time when business has been crippled and no one knows when things will return to normal, they could give business a shot in the arm by canceling or at least delaying the Brexit until such time things are "normal" again
Negotiations are supposedly going to restart next week, but that still leaves only about one month to replace half a century of established trade and immigration policy.
The Johnson government has said they would abandon negotiations and prepare for a hard Brexit if they don't make progress by June and they're still sticking by that timeline. Leaving the European Customs union at the end of this year without a deal means Britain will lose free access to Europe's 500 million consumers. The free flow of goods and more importantly the free flow of people will stop. Goods and people will be subject to border checks.