Brexit: UK 'formally confirms' to EU it will not extend transition period

12 June 2020, 15:03

Michael Gove said he had communicated the position with the EU in a meeting earlier today
Michael Gove said he had communicated the position with the EU in a meeting earlier today. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

The UK has "formally confirmed" that it will not extend its Brexit transition period beyond the end of the year, and that the time for an extension had also passed.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove made the announcement on Friday after holding a meeting with the EU's Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations Maros Sefcovic.

"I formally confirmed the UK will not extend the transition period and the moment for extension has now passed," Mr Gove said in a tweet.

"On 1 January, 2021, we will take back control and regain our political and economic independence."

Just hours earlier, the first ministers of Scotland and Wales revealed they had written to the prime minister saying it would be "extraordinarily reckless" to not seek an extension amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The joint letter from Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford said an extension would provide "breathing space" to complete negotiations as attentions have, at times, been redirected to controlling the pandemic.

"Without an extension to the transition period, at very best there will only be a damaging ‘bare bones’ trade deal or even worse, a disastrous no deal outcome," the letter said.

READ MORE: Scottish and Welsh First Ministers call for Brexit extension

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“We are mindful that the Withdrawal Agreement only permits an extension of the transition period if this has been agreed before the end of June.

"At the time the Withdrawal Agreement was signed, no-one could have imagined the enormous economic dislocation which the COVID-19 pandemic has caused – in Wales, Scotland, the whole of the UK, in the EU and across the world."

Nicola Sturgeon (left) and Mark Drakeford (right) have written a joint letter to the prime minister encouraging an extension to the transition period
Nicola Sturgeon (left) and Mark Drakeford (right) have written a joint letter to the prime minister encouraging an extension to the transition period. Picture: PA

In the EU, Mr Sefcovic said he had taken note of the commitment expressed by Mr Gove, but said the bloc's position would remain "open to such an extension".

He added: "In this context, we both, with Chancellor Gove, agreed on accelerating the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and to accelerate our work, and we also agreed that the Joint Committee should meet again in early September.

"By this date we also concluded that specialised committees including the one on the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol will meet in the coming weeks."

He added that he had stressed the need for the UK to uphold its commitments to Northern Ireland.

On Mr Gove's comment about taking back control, Mr Sefcovic said it was up to the UK on how that goes ahead.

"I would say that the UK has stated on several occasions that it wants to take back the control, and I would say it is up to the UK how they do it."

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