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Confronted with twin crises, Britain’s chief is stalling for time.

For Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, the pandemic and the looming home upheaval it has overshadowed — Brexit — are linked.

The financial turmoil unleashed by the pandemic has raised the strain on Mr. Johnson to keep away from the self-inflicted disruption of ruptured negotiations with the European Union over Britain’s withdrawal.

The prime minister has now reached a second of fact on the 2 points which have dominated Britain this 12 months: the pandemic and the withdrawal talks. However he’s nonetheless taking part in for time, a technique that would put lives or livelihoods in danger if he waits too lengthy.

On Thursday, Mr. Johnson inched nearer to imposing extra limits on the nation. However he caught to his argument that the easiest way to curb the coronavirus was by means of focused responses, not the two-week nationwide lockdown pushed by the opposition Labour Occasion and his personal scientific advisers.

The prime minister additionally appeared able to string out commerce talks with Brussels, letting a self-imposed deadline move on Thursday with out a deal. Whereas Mr. Johnson may torpedo the negotiations on Friday, after a two-day summit assembly of European Union leaders, analysts stated the British authorities nonetheless appeared desperate to strike an settlement by the authorized deadline of Dec. 31.

Mr. Johnson’s reluctance to maneuver decisively on both entrance, the virus or Brexit, dangers making each worse, analysts say.

Dragging out the talks with Brussels may put Britain in a bind if the 2 sides hit an deadlock because the clock runs out. Laying aside a brief lockdown — which consultants have dubbed a “circuit breaker” — may necessitate an extended lockdown later, in keeping with medical consultants.

“Should you’re going to do it, do it early, quick and laborious,” stated Devi Sridhar, chair of the worldwide public well being program on the College of Edinburgh. “The longer they delay, the much less possible a two-week circuit breaker will work.”

Most bars and pubs will likely be closed beginning Saturday in Lancashire, in northwest England, because the area of about a million folks strikes into the best stage of the nation’s three-tier alert system, which is reserved for areas with the best charges of an infection. Individuals will even be barred from socializing indoors with members of different households.

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