We are now out of the European Union and in the transitional period. During this time, we will be negotiating a free trade agreement with the EU, which we hope to conclude before the end of this year, and also starting trade talks with other countries across the world.
Transition Period Extension
On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union and the Withdrawal Agreement the Government agreed with the EU entered into force.
As part of this agreement, the UK entered into a brief transition period with the EU lasting until 31 December 2020, during which time our future relationship will be negotiated. At the end of this period, the UK will fully recover its economic and political independence, and will no longer be a part of the EU Single Market or the EU Customs Union. That is now enshrined in law and is the Government’s policy.
Negotiations for our future relationship are fully underway – and the Government has been consistent in its view that any future relationship should have a comprehensive free trade agreement at its core, just like the EU has agreed with many other independent countries around the world.
The Government will work hard to agree arrangements on these lines. However, if it is not possible to negotiate a satisfactory outcome, then the trading relationship with the EU will rest on the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement and will look similar to Australia's.
The Government remains fully committed to completing these negotiations by 31 December 2020, and will not ask for the transition period to be extended – if the EU asks for it to be extended the Government will also say no.
Extending the transition period at this point would simply prolong the negotiations, prolong business uncertainty, and delay the moment of control of our borders. It would mean having to make further payments into the EU budget, and would also keep the UK bound by EU legislation, at a point when we need legislative and economic flexibility to manage the UK response to the covid-19 pandemic.
I am confident the Government will be able to secure a future relationship with the EU that has a comprehensive free trade agreement at its core. Both sides remain fully committed to the negotiations and reaching an agreement before the end of the year, and I do not believe that extending the transition period, which will keep us bound by EU laws indefinitely, would be in the best interest of the UK at this critical time.