Brexit transition period 'could be extended by another year' in bid to break Irish border deadlock
The Brexit transition period could be extended by a year in a bid to resolve the Irish border deadlock - potentially costing the UK billions of pounds in extra payments.
According to the Daily Telegraph, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has proposed the move, which would mean the UK remains tied to the EU until the end of 2021 despite no longer being a member.
Such a move would infuriate Tory eurosceptics, who fear Britain being tied to the bloc indefinitely after the official leave date of 29 March next year.
Some have claimed it could cost the Treasury an extra £17bn in payments to the EU, on top of the £39bn which has already been agreed.
Speaking on Friday, Chancellor Philip Hammond admitted that the transition period would probably need to be extended to avoid any economic shock.
He said: "It is true that there needs to be a period - probably following the transition period that we've negotiated and before we enter into our long-term partnership - just because of the time it will take to implement the systems required."
Downing Street was yesterday forced to insist that Theresa May would not sign up to any Brexit deal which "trapped" the UK in a permanent customs union with the EU.
Meanwhile, it has also emerged that the Government is set to roll out its live trial of post-Brexit registration to 250,000 EU citizens.
It will first test the scheme with vulnerable individuals as ministers seek to smooth out wrinkles in the system.
The extension follows the launch of a pilot scheme in the north-west of England involving 12 NHS trusts and three universities in Liverpool.
The first phase is expected to have gone well as everyone involved is understood to have been educated and computer-literate.
This second part will be crucial in established how effective the scheme is in helping vulnerable people.
From November, the scheme will extend to three NHS trusts in Manchester.
It will then be rolled out to register children taken into care in five local authorities - Kent, Lincolnshire, Sheffield, and the London Boroughs of Waltham Forest and Haringey.
Those eligible to apply include people receiving support from the Eastern European Resource Centre and Rights of Women and The Roma Support Group charities in London.
Any EU citizens working in an NHS trust in England, along with 16 other health institutes such as Public Health England and the Care Quality Commission, will be able to apply from the end of November.