With the CV-19 crisis deepening, most people will have forgotten about Brexit – or think it was last year’s issue and is now “done”.
In reality, Brexit remains a huge issue, and when the government starts to think about getting the economy going again, the last thing that makes any sense is the double whammy of CV and Brexit. By the end of June, the Prime Minister must make a decision on whether to ask for an extension to the transition period – and repeal his law that makes that illegal.
If the Prime Minister does not extend, then a No-deal outcome (presented as an “Australian deal”) is now inevitable, and would be a devastating blow to the recovery of the UK economy after CV-19.
If the PM goes for an extension, we will still be in the Single Market and Customs Union. By then, it is likely the British public will have lost interest in the wonders Brexit was supposed to deliver, and this might present an opportunity for a new campaign to preserve the status quo – out of the EU (satisfying the “will of the people” brigade), but retaining the economic advantages, rather like Norway. We would then of course be a “rule taker” with no say, but that is what people voted for.
Of course, Johnson might realise that if he doesn’t finalise the Brexit process this year, the whole nonsensical project may slip away from him, and so he might prefer to go for a hard break at the year end whatever the consequences. Assuming he is still in power after the CV-19 crisis, there is no way of preventing that happening.
However, assuming that CV-19 crisis is over or under control by next year, and if the Brexit negotiations drag on into 2021 and beyond, then there might be an opportunity for damage limitation, and for the public to swing against the whole Brexit idea. Just possibly a newly reinvigorated opposition party could help with this. A Norway-style outcome could be a possible objective, later to be converted into re-joining, so as to be no longer a rule taker, but a rule maker once again.