The government is to add a new clause to the Brexit bill to rule out any extension to the transition period beyond the end of next year. The post-Brexit transition period – due to conclude in December 2020 – can currently be extended by mutual agreement for up to two years.
But an amended Withdrawal Agreement Bill the Commons is set to vote on this week would rule out any extension. Critics say this raises the chance of leaving the EU without a trade deal. But senior Cabinet Minister Michael Gove insisted both the UK and the EU had “committed themselves to making sure that we have a deal” by the end of 2020.
He also promised Parliament would be able to scrutinise the Withdrawal Agreement Bill “in depth”. Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the move was “reckless and irresponsible” and he argued that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “prepared to put people’s jobs at risk”.
Liberal Democrat interim leader Sir Ed Davey said: “The only way Johnson can meet the December 2020 timetable is by giving up all his previous promises to Leave voters and agreeing to all the demands of the EU.”