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Downing Street rules out extension to Brexit transition period - even if Brussels asks for it

The Brexit transition period is set to end on December 31 (PA)

2 min read

The UK will not be extending the Brexit transition into 2021 even if the European Union asks to, Downing Street have confirmed.

Despite the disruption to the negotiations caused by the coronavirus outbreak, Number 10 has repeatedly said the 12-month implementation period would remain in place.

On Wednesday the two sides put out a joint statement saying talks on Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with Brussels are to continue amid the global pandemic.

And the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the UK will be leaving the EU on December 31 this year, and the timeline should not be altered by either side.

"We will not ask to extend the transition period and if the EU asks we will say no,” they said. 

“Extending the transition would simply prolong the negotiations and prolong business uncertainty and delay the moment of control of our borders.”

The spokesman added: "It would also keep us bound by EU legislation at a point where we need legislative and economic flexibility to manage the UK response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"If the EU asks, we will say no.

”The point I emphasise is extending the transition would just prolong business uncertainty. UK business needs to know what its future trading arrangements will be and how to adapt to them. 

“It is better to be clear now to minimise the uncertainty for businesses."

The statement followed “constructive” discussions between the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier via videolink.

The pair confirmed that three more rounds of talks are now being lined up for the full weeks of 20 April, 11 May and 1 June, with a “high-level” meeting still on the cards for June to “take stock of the progress made”.

“The two sides took stock of the technical work that has taken place since the first negotiating round on the basis of the legal texts exchanged by both sides,” the communique said.

“While this work has been useful to identify all major areas of divergence and convergence, the two sides agreed on the need to organise further negotiating rounds in order to make real, tangible progress in the negotiations by June.”

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