Extension of the transition period

Constituents have raised various concerns about coming to the end of the transition period at the end of December when we will leave the EU, as is enshrined in law and as is the Government’s policy.

I understand that some are worried about the impact that leaving the EU might have on different regions of the UK, and the combined impact of both leaving the Single Market and Coronavirus. It certainly has been a challenging time for many people and the period of recovery and the road back to normality may seem longer than anticipated. However, it is my belief that an extension to the transition period would only create more uncertainty for businesses, whereas a future partnership agreement will provide stability in the long-term and encourage investment and trade.

An extension to the transition period could also have significant economic and political consequences for the UK. Our contribution to the EU budget would continue and we would remain under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. The UK left the EU in January this year and the EU’s control over our affairs must come to an end. The Government has been consistent in its view that any future relationship should have a comprehensive free trade agreement at its core, just like the EU has agreed with many other independent countries around the world – which would help protect British businesses and industries.

Negotiations have been continuing throughout the coronavirus outbreak with discussions by videoconference in April, May and June following the first round of talks in March. Progress has been made across a number of areas and the technical detail is well understood by both sides. The differences that remain are largely of a political nature and I remain hopeful that these can be resolved before the end of the year. If it’s not possible to negotiate a satisfactory deal, then the trading relationship with the EU will rest on the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement and will look similar to Australia’s.

I want to make it clear that I would prefer to leave with a deal in place. That is our goal and we are still in negotiations with the EU. But it cannot be a bad deal – and the Manifesto I stood on in December 2019 clearly states that we will not extend the implementation period beyond 2020. I also do not believe that extending the transition period, which will keep us bound to EU laws indefinitely, would be in the best interest of our country at this critical time.

Thank you again to those who took the time to raise their concerns with me, they are duly noted, and I hope this goes some way to explain my position on this issue.