It ain't over until it's over, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cried 'wolf' and called it quits several times before over the past year, but this time it could be final.
The United Kingdom will formally leave the European customs union on January 1st, 2021 with or without a replacement agreement for trade and immigration, but both sides are now saying a deal is the least likely scenario.
Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen both say they're further apart now than they were before and, for his part, Johnson says that's Okay because a hard, no-deal Brexit will be "wonderful."
“It’s looking very, very likely we’ll have to go for a solution that I think will be wonderful for the UK, we’ll be able to do exactly what we want from January 1, it will obviously be different from what we set out to achieve,” Johnson told reporters.
“If there’s a big offer, a big change in what they’re saying then I must say that I’m yet to see it,” said Johnson, the face of the “leave” campaign in Britain’s 2016 Brexit referendum.
It will be "wonderful," he says. But what does wonderful look like?
It looks like possible food shortages. Possible drug shortages. Higher prices for virtually everything subject to tariffs including over half of Britain's food supply. It looks like labor shortages and significant delays in cross border traffic and commerce. Those are just the most obvious but far from the only problems that could arise from breaking half a century of close integration between 500 million consumers across Europe.
It always strikes me that for as much damage as Trump has done to us, the Biden administration can undo most if not all of it. But leaving the European Union is final. The next prime minister after Johnson won't be able to rejoin the union with an executive order. Reintegrating an entire society is not as simple as signing an order to release Trump's kids in cages.
Maybe all the experts in the world are wrong. Maybe Boris Johnson's own government -- which has predicted all of the negative outcomes I outlined above -- is wrong. Maybe a hard Brexit won't be as bad as anyone imagines, but that's the biggest chance in the world to take.
Whatever happens, I'm pretty sure it won't be "wonderful." Even striking a deal at the last minute will lead to significant disruption. Even a deal won't be "wonderful."