Government risks Brexit backlash with plans for ‘indefinite’ implementation period

Posted On: 
21st February 2018

The Government has risked the ire of Tory eurosceptics by proposing an indefinite Brexit implementation period.

A document setting out the Government's Brexit negotiating position has reveals plans for an indefinite implementation period

A draft of the UK’s negotiating position, obtained by Bloomberg News, reveals that the Government says the transition should be as long as it takes to put in place arrangements for the future UK-EU relationship.

It comes after a group of 62 Tory MPs wrote to Theresa May setting out their demands for the UK’s withdrawal, including “full regulatory autonomy” and the ability to negotiate trade deals “immediately”.

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The leaked document suggests the Government is still aiming for a two-year transition period, but it leaves the door open for negotiations to go on longer.

That puts it at odds with the EU, who have specified that the period should be over by the end of 2020, just 21 months after the UK officially leaves the bloc in March 2019.

The draft guidelines state:

 “The UK believes the Period’s duration should be determined simply by how long it will take to prepare and implement the new processes and new systems that will underpin the future partnership.

“The UK agrees this points to a period of around two years, but wishes to discuss with the EU the assessment that supports its proposed end date.”

The document also includes plans to create a joint committee to “supervise the Withdrawal Agreement” and protect “the rights and interest of both parties”.  

A Government source confirmed to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg that the draft proposals did represent a “softening” of the UK’s position on EU migrants settling during the Brexit transition period.

Mrs May had previously said their status would be different after Brexit, but EU officials insisted that citizens’ rights must be maintained during the handover.