A number of constituents have contacted me to request an extension of the EU transition period.
Following the UK leaving the EU on 31 January 2020, a transition period is due to operate until 31st December 2020, during which market access remains the same and the UK and EU are negotiating an agreement on their future relationship. The Government will continue to try and procure the best possible deal for Britain. Coronavirus has had an impact on the negotiations, which has led some to consider the desirability of an extension to the period. However the Conservative manifesto on which I stood was clear that the transition period would not be extended beyond December 2020 and this has been put into law.
The outbreak of COVID-19 is serious and the government is doing everything possible to tackle the virus based on the latest scientific and medical advice. The latest round of negotiations took place via video conference at the end of April and further rounds will take place in the weeks commencing 11 May and 1 June.
I appreciate that some constituents have concerns about the deadline, but ministers have already shown that they are able to negotiate international agreements with speed and efficiency. The Withdrawal Agreement was re-opened and re-negotiated in under three months despite many believing that this would be not be possible. A high-level summit will take place in June where both sides intend to take stock of progress. The UK and the EU share closely aligned interests and I am confident that the matter will be brought to a conclusion by the end of 2020. The government will keep the public informed as and when there are any updates.
The UK and the EU share closely aligned interests and I am confident that the determination and willingness of the Parties to reach a free trade agreement will ensure that the matter is brought to a conclusion by the end of 2020 as legally committed to in good faith by both parties as part of the transition period.