You might have thought that Brexit had gone away for the moment, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. But as this tweet from the UK’s chief negotiator confirms, the UK is still on track to leave at the end of the year.
David Frost also set out the rationale for the decision:
“Extending would simply prolong negotiations, create even more uncertainty, leave us liable to pay more to the EU in future, and keep us bound by evolving EU laws at a time when we need to control our own affairs. In short, it is not in the UK’s interest to extend.”
The detailed approach to the negotiations was set out in February. But since then, many people have assumed that the government will ask for the necessary extension to the Transition period, on the basis that the government needed to focus all available resources on combating the economic and health risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was the point made by the IMF, which warned last week that:.
“A no-deal Brexit that severely disrupts supply chains and raises trade costs could potentially have large and long-lasting negative impacts on the economies of the United Kingdom and the European Union”.
But Frost’s statement suggests that leaving the EU remains a key priority, on the basis that the UK needs to “fully recover its economic and political independence“.
The first set of talks has kicked off this week, and there will be further week-long negotiations starting on May 11 and June 1.
We will continue to keep you updated as the talks develop.