Thank you for getting in touch with me on the issue of the Brexit transition period.
As you point out, the UK is legally committed to leaving the EU at the end of the transition period. This is part of UK law, and I believe that any extension to the transition period beyond 31 December 2020 will only create more uncertainty for businesses.
May I begin by saying that ‘No Deal’ is now an irrelevant concept. The UK left the EU on 31 January with a deal.
As a result of this, the UK will leave the EU at the end of the transition period with either a Canada-style free trade agreement or the 2019 deal. This will give a trading relationship similar to the one Australia enjoys with the EU. Current negotiations are to outline this. Striking such a deal will be good for the UK and, as we are not seeking a highly bespoke deal at this time, is a modest and effective approach to take.
Successful discussions have already been held 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. I am informed that both sides are seeking a Free Trade Agreement with no tariffs, quotes fees or charges across all good sectors. There are also further provisions on security, services and other cooperation being discussed. In parallel, we will legislate to ensure high standards of workers’ rights, environmental protection and consumer rights.
Any extension to the transition period would ultimately 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. Many of the changes we seek to implement to empower our position globally and drive the UK’s growth can only be made when we have fully left the EU.
A future partnership agreement will provide stability in the long-term and encourage investment and trade. I firmly support the Government in this and believe that extending the transition period and causing further delay will severely damage business confidence.
I stood behind this Government and was elected on a manifesto pledge to complete negotiations with no extension to the transition period. This Government was voted in with a significant majority on a groundswell of public support for getting the EU negotiations done. Calling for an extension would be a failure to uphold the clear democratic mandate given to the Government by the public in the last election, and a betrayal of those who voted for me.
Adding to our success so far in EU negotiations, the UK has begun striking important free trade agreements with Australia, New Zealand, and negotiating accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. We are also in bilateral negotiations with the USA, affirming the UK’s position outside of the EU as a key global player and desirable trading partner.
Beyond global trade, the UK is leading the way in the fight against Coronavirus. Our incredible research institutions are making huge advances in developing effective treatment and a vaccine for the disease. We have developed the first Coronavirus treatment anywhere in the world that is proven to reduce the risk of death from COVID-19, which is being used in hospitals to treat patients.
I am confident that the UK will prosper outside of the EU, and we must remain on track to deliver this before the end of the year. You can read the Government’s approach to EU negotiations here.
Thank you again for contacting me. If you would like to stay up to date with the latest information from me, you can sign up to my e-newsletter here.