Ministers pledge ‘business as usual’ during two-year transition period in letter

Posted On: 
27th January 2018

Businesses based in Britain will be able to trade with the EU as they normally would during the two-year transition period, top ministers have said in a letter.

David Davis and Philip Hammond were joined by Greg Clark in their letter to business.
PA images

In a joint letter from the Chancellor, Business and Brexit Secretary, they said common rules and regulations would still apply, EU citizens would still be able to work in the UK and trade agreements would remain in place.

However, a registration system for new EU citizens arriving in the UK would be put in place but ministers were not anticipating this putting any pressure on businesses.

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“These three elements are all about delivering the core purpose of the implementation period - ensuring people and businesses have sufficient time to prepare for the future by maintaining continuity in our trading arrangements with the EU immediately after our withdrawal,” the letter said.

Ministers were careful to call the two years after March 2019 an implementation rather than transitional period – a bone of contention among Brexiteers this week.

Chairman of the European Reform Group, Jacob Rees-Mogg expressed concern that the UK would become a “vassal state” and the EU’s “lackey” with the way negotiations were headed.

A full-blown row broke out between the Chancellor and the Prime Minister after Philip Hammond told the World Economic Forum he was looking for “modest changes” to the relationship between Britain and the EU.

Downing Street hit back at Mr Hammond, assuring the public their policy was still to leave the single market and customs union.

The letter informed business leaders there would only be set of changes to regulations at the two-year implementation period:

“This is why, during the implementation period, we are clear that the UK’s and the EU’s access to one another’s markets should continue on current terms, meaning there will only be one set of changes at the end of the implementation period, as we move into our future partnership.

“The period’s duration will be strictly time-limited, and should be determined simply by how long it will take to make these changes – as the Prime Minister has previously set out, this will be around two years.”

Ministers warned there would be more to discuss with their EU counterparts over the coming weeks, but they believed their proposal was “closely aligned with the EU guidelines adopted by EU leaders in December”.

“Both we and the EU therefore want to agree the detail of the implementation period by the end of March, making good as swiftly as possible on our promise of certainty,” the letter said.

“We will then finalise the text of the Withdrawal Agreement to give the implementation period legal form, at the same time as we build out with the EU the framework for our deep and special future partnership.”