Last week, the European Union‘s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier wrote to UK opposition party leaders to say Brussels is open to the idea of an extension to the transition period by up to two years. But this was immediately slapped down by both Boris Johnson and Mr Barnier’s UK counterpart David Frost, who continue to insist a trade deal is signed before the end of the transition period on December 31. A group of Remain ministers, led by Liberal Democrat acting co-leader Sir Ed Davey, are trying to squeeze a Bill through Parliament in a last-ditch and desperate attempt to delay Brexit by up to two years. The second reading of this Bill is due to take place on June 12.
But a new report from the Centre for Brexit Policy has destroyed the plot from Remainers to delay the UK’s departure from the EU even further.
The think tank said: “In spite of this demonstrated will of the people and the UK Government’s resolve to exit the transition period on schedule (as enshrined in law), there remains a sustained campaign to bring pressure on the Government to extend the transition period – and delay or even deny Brexit.
“These Brexit opponents have taken advantage of the current COVID-19 crisis to make two core arguments for extending the transition period.
“Pressures of responding to the COVID-19 crisis makes it impossible for an EU-UK trade agreement to be reached before 31 December this year, the date on which statutory legislation requires the UK to exit the transition period.
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“If no trade agreement has been concluded with the EU by December of this year, the UK economy, beset by COVID-19, cannot withstand the shock of such a change to our trading relationship with the EU.
But the Centre for Brexit Policy argued extending the transition period and delaying Brexit for two years would cost £380billion, “or trillions of pounds if Brexit were lost forever as a result of extension”.
Secondly, the think tank said extending the transition period beyond December 31 would “prevent us from taking the radical steps needed to rebuild the post-COVID economy because the UK would continue to be bound by EU rules and unable to influence them”.
The think tank accused Remainers of taking advantage of the current coronavirus crisis to make two arguments for extending the transition period.
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These are the pressures of responding to the coronavirus pandemic would make it impossible for the UK and EU to strike a trade deal by December 31, and if no agreement has been concluded by this time, the UK economy, beset by the impacts of COVID-19, would not be able to withstand the shock of a change to the trading relationship with Brussels.
But the paper from the Centre for Brexit Policy argues leaving the transition period, even without a trade deal in place, is “critical to recovering from COVID-19 and actually improves the chances of reaching a deal with the EU”.
The analysis says leaving the transition period on December 31 would “support the economic recovery from Covid-19 by capitalising on past UK trading success with non-EU countries under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules”.
“Allows Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to be implemented that, in turn, support the recovery.
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“Enhances the UK negotiating position making it more likely to reach a deal with the EU.
“Provides freedom from EU constraints enabling better regulation that is necessary for revitalising the post-Covid-19 economy.”
The Centre for Brexit Policy also said delaying the transition period beyond December 31 in the hope of reaching an agreement with the EU is “nonsensical”.
The paper says: “It is only the lack of EU political will that prevents concluding a trade agreement by the end of the year.
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“In the absence of an EU trade deal, trading under WTO terms with the EU is the most attractive, least costly, and best prepared option.”
The think tank argues “unravelling the statute law default position is complex”, as extending the transition period for two years would cost £380billion, or trillions of pounds if Brexit were lost forever as a result of an extension”.
The Centre for Brexit Policy also pointed towards a recent poll that it commissioned, which shows the British public support the transition period ending on December 31.
Savanta ComRes interviewed 2,058 UK adults from May 1-3, which found 44 percent of the electorate are in favour of the current status of the transition period or even an exit before then. This compares to 40 percent who want the transition period extended to 2020 or beyond.
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When asked if extending the transition period will lead to further delays, nearly half (46 percent) agreed, with only 16 percent disagreeing – a margin of three to one.
The Centre of Brexit Policy said this indicated four years after the EU Referendum in which 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU, they want to get Brexit done.
Forty-five percent agreed the UK would be at a greater advantage outside of the EU, with 28 percent opposed to this.
Participants also rejected claims the December 31 deadline and coronavirus-induced interruptions in the talks were grounds for a delay – people agreed by a margin of 42 percent to 24 percent there is enough time to negotiate with the EU before the end of the transition period.
Published at Mon, 01 Jun 2020 18:27:00 +0000