David Davis: No transition unless a final deal is also agreed

The Brexit secretary has added further pressure to talks as he tells MPs that a transition phase won’t be triggered unless a final deal is also agreed.

The Brexit secretary told MPs today that a transition deal on Brexit will not apply unless a final deal could also be agreed. David Davis made the comments in response to a question by Tory MP Rishi Sunak who asked what the government will do to ensure the “transitory state of affairs does not become a permanent bridge to nowhere.”

Davis said a transition deal needed to be agreed as soon as possible to reassure businesses. However, he added that a transition phase could only be triggered once the final deal had been agreed.

Such a transition phase can only be triggered once we’ve completed the deal itself.

We cannot carry on negotiating through that. Our negotiating position during the transition phase would not be very strong.

David Davis, Brexit secretary

Unless the government is hoping to extend the Article 50 negotiating period (which will need the approval of EU member states), this suggests the government still expects to agree a new future relationship deal by March 2019. This seemed a tall order at the beginning of Brexit talks. And it seems even more challenging given EU leaders are unlikely to give the go-ahead for talks to move on to the future relationship at a summit later this week. As well as adding more pressure on negotiators to get a deal (with talks not progressing very quickly), this also increases the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU with ‘no deal’.

Meanwhile, a report published today by the Resolution Foundation said that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would hit the poorest hardest with the average household losing £260 a year. And last week, a report by Dutch bank Rabobank said a ‘no deal’ scenario would cause permanent damage to the UK and cost 18% of GDP by 2030. From this, it looks like a transitory state becoming permanent sounds a much better prospect!

Image: © Gina Power /
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