When the UK officially left the EU in late January and entered the transition period, there were concerns that eleven months would not be enough to draft a post-Brexit trade agreement.
These concerns have only increased as efforts by the United Kingdom and the EU have moved away from the Brexit negotiations and tackled the coronavirus pandemic.
If there was little time to reach a satisfactory trade agreement before Covid-19 dominated the attention of governments around the world, there is now less time to reach an agreement that will do the damage Brexit will do to the UK economy , reduced as much as possible.
The corona virus is already costing billions, Britain can afford another heavy economic landing if it hopes to recover from Chish Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s forecasts “major recession” .
There is a mechanism to free up more time for the Brexit negotiations, with the possibility of extending the transition period, thereby delaying the moment when the UK leaves the EU properly and is fully aware of the consequences of going it alone.
However, one of the first things the Boris Johnson government did after winning a significant majority was Legislation to prevent yourself from applying for an extension and effectively tie their own hands to show their commitment to Brexit by the end of 2020.
Should the government rethink its stance on extending the transition period as the coronavirus distracts attention from the Brexit talks, which already had a tight schedule?
David Henig, a former British trade negotiator, believes Extending the transition period would be a good insurance policy At a time when the government really has to focus on something other than Brexit.
The negotiations will take a lot of time and attention if they are scarce due to a global pandemic that kills hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
The opportunity to gain additional time and conduct trade negotiations should be seen as a valuable opportunity to deal with the virus without worrying about Brexit, while giving more time to do a proper deal.
The negotiations were already aimed at a trade agreement that would be economically more damaging to Great Britain than a better developed one. Additional negotiation time means additional details of the trade agreement and less economic damage from Brexit.
Nobody doubts that this government is determined to take Britain out of the EU. Boris Johnson may have broken his promise to end Brexit on October 31, but one of the first things he did after the general election was to find a way to leave as soon as possible.
A global pandemic is an extraordinary event. Extending the transition period due to the corona virus would not mean that the government is trying to thwart Brexit, but means that it is committed to ensuring that this is done properly and not quickly.
Despite the recommendations to extend the transition period, the government is sticking to its current course and insisting that it will not try to delay Brexit.
Without a change in position, there will be no circumstances that would prompt the government to request an extension or to agree to one if offered by the EU.
The conservatives would have to repeal their own laws, which would be possible with a successful vote in parliament Johnson was warned that if he tried, he could face a bank riot.
The government does not want to risk being subject to EU legislation drawn up in 2021 to identify a post-coronavirus pathway that would benefit the 27 remaining Member States, but perhaps not the United Kingdom.
An unlikely supporter of the government’s decision not to seek an extension of the transition period is union leader Sir Keir Starmer, who said he didn’t see how a deal could be done through December, however insisted that Johnson maintain his claim that this was possible.
Starmer’s comments are less an endorsement of the government’s Brexit strategy than an attempt to stick to its words and take consequences.
While in the transition phase, the UK is still subject to EU legislation, but has no influence on the way in which the legislation is formed. Leaving the union has the obvious effect of losing membership privileges.
The EU has stated that the decision to extend the transition period rests with the United Kingdom.
The deadline for extending the transition period would have to be agreed by the UK and the EU before July 1st This means that the Brexit delay window will soon be closed. The length of the extension and other conditions such as the UK’s financial contributions to the EU would have to be determined by then.
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This is not a situation where more time can be saved at the last moment. If July 1st comes and goes without an extension being agreed, there will be a few months left and there is no prospect of a delay.
Getting a trade deal with the EU in eleven months has always been a difficult task. Other trade agreements the EU has with countries like Japan, Canada, South Korea, Singapore and Ukraine have taken years to negotiate and fully apply .
It would be very difficult for the UK to expect its agreement to be negotiated and ratified in less than a year. It is considered impossible to achieve a detailed trade agreement during this period, and even securing a bare bones agreement could be impossible due to the distraction of the corona virus.