Brexit: Will Boris Johnson end the cancerous uncertainty about trade with the EU?

We are back in a full scale economic crisis. 

In London and the south-east, the richest part of the UK and engine of the economy, normal commerce has been suspended by the imposition of Tier 4.  

And the decision of much of the EU and a growing number of rich countries to put the whole UK into quarantine is devastating trade.

What are the immediate priorities?

Probably the most important one is basic: the creation of a facility to give rapid Covid-19 tests to all lorry drivers leaving the UK, so that the transport of freight can be restarted as quickly as possible.

Second, to end the cancerous uncertainty for businesses about how they will be buying from and selling to EU countries in just 10 days time, after the transition to full Brexit ends. 

Right now, the border closure means importers and exporters are frantically trying to work out how to ship anything.

So it is grotesquely irresponsible to keep them in the dark about what will be the terms of trade on January 1 with customers in their biggest market. 

For what it is worth, there is no ability to extend the status quo - the transition - by more than a few days and on an extemporised emergency basis. Or at least so UK and EU sources tell me.

And a few extra days of talks are very unlikely to give UK and EU leaders the space and time to conclude negotiations much more rationally than is the case right now.

So the PM has to stop prevaricating and choose. 

He either has to accept the terms, especially on fishing and future competition, from which he instinctively recoils - and risk months of attacks from his Brexiter colleagues that he capitulated under duress, and which might terminate his time as PM (especially as many of those Brexiter MP critics also loath his stewardship of the Covid-19 response).

Or the PM needs to mandate the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, to frantically try and nail down a raft of mini deals to lessen the inevitable disruption of failing to agree an overarching free trade deal and security pact - and do so in a way that doesn't turn the UK into a pariah in its relationship with the EU.

What is happening to the UK and in the UK could hardly be more serious. Much of any government response, like testing lorry drivers, is obvious and uncontroversial. 

But in respect of the future relationship with the EU - and in the context of the Covid-19 crisis - the outstanding elements of the free trade deal are relatively trivial.

The PM knows the important elements of the available deal.

He simply has to decide whether he wants them. It is his decision, and his alone.