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- Extending the Transition Period (TP) and delaying Brexit for 2 years would cost £380 billion, or trillions of pounds if Brexit were lost forever as a result of extension.
- An extension of the TP 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 British public oppose extension of the TP by 44 per cent to 40 per cent. Among Conservative voters, 61 per cent want to leave on time at the end of this year or even earlier.
For the last five years and in five national polls, the British people have voted clearly and consistently in favour of leaving the European Union (EU).
The UK formally left the EU at 11 pm on 31 January 2020 moving into a TP scheduled to end on 31 December 2020 during which the EU and the UK are to agree a trading relationship under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration.
In spite of this demonstrated will of the people and the UK Government’s resolve to exit the TP on schedule (as enshrined in law), there remains a sustained campaign to bring pressure on the government to extend the TP – 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 TP:
- The 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 TP.
- 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.
This paper demonstrates that exiting the TP on schedule – even without an agreed trade deal with the EU – is critical to recovering from Covid-19 and actually improves the chances of reaching a deal with the EU. This is because exiting the TP on schedule
- Supports 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.
- 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.
Furthermore, the paper shows that delaying the exit next December, in the hope of reaching agreement on a deal with the EU, is nonsensical
- It is only the lack of EU political will that prevents concluding a trade agreement by the end of the year.
- 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.
- Unravelling the statute law default position is complex
- Extension has many negative consequences
- Extending the TP could cost hundreds of billions of pounds
- There is no “cliff edge”
Comprehensive professional polling, commissioned for CBP, shows that public opinion backs exiting the TP as scheduled on 31 December 2020
- The public wants the Government to either shorten the transition period or stick to its current timetable by a small margin (44 per cent to 40 per cent).
- They are deeply cynical about the EU’s motives. Asked if extending the transition will lead to further extensions, 46 per cent agreed with only 16 per cent disagreeing – a margin of nearly three to one, indicating that four years after the Referendum in which 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU, they want to get Brexit done.
- Conservative voters are overwhelmingly opposed to any extension of the TP despite the Covid-19 emergency: 61 per cent of Boris Johnson’s supporters want the UK to exit the transition period by the end of the year or sooner. These are the people the Conservative Government relies on for its 80-seat parliamentary majority.
- The public remains sanguine about Brexit. Asked if the UK would be better off in the long run outside the EU, 45 per cent agreed, with 28 per cent disagreeing – a margin of 17 points for those believing the country has done the right thing to leave.
- People also rejected claims that the 31 December deadline and virus-induced interruptions in the talks were grounds for delay. By 42 per cent to 24 per cent, people agreed there is enough time to negotiate with the EU before the end of the TP.
- And, by 45 per cent to 24 per cent (almost 2:1), people agree that the government should be capable of managing both the Covid-19 pandemic and the TP at the same time.