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Ensuing that the Transition Period (TP) terminates at the end of this year is one of the key ingredients in delivering the Government’s Brexit policy. Any extension would fundamentally undermine its strategy.
The Government is proving admirably robust on the matter, insisting that the United Kingdom will not countenance an extension. The opposing view, however, is still well represented, insisting that with the country’s health and economic well-being in severe jeopardy, 2020 is not the year to embark on a final, traumatic break with the European Union, which has been our home for nearly 50 years.
Advocates for an extension call for the UK to postpone its departure by one or two years. They argue that this will give business time to steady itself after the chilling effects of the lockdown and enjoy a breathing space before it has to adapt to whatever may emerge from the current talks with Brussels over the future trading relationship.
They also argue that the Government does not have the bandwidth to cope with two major upheavals at the same time – restarting and rebuilding a stalled economy and resolving the outstanding matters in our relationship with the EU.
We take the opposite view. Coronavirus is not a reason for extending the TP. Coronavirus is a reason for completing our exit, with or without a free trade agreement (FTA), no later than the date enshrined in UK law – 31 December 2020.
The reasons are numerous, but they can be summarised simply:
- Red Wall voters underpin the democratic mandate to leave on time as expressed repeatedly over the past four years
- Leaving as scheduled this December 31st is essential to recovering from Covid-19 and ‘levelling up’
- Any extension will lead to huge costs