Brexit is going ahead as Matt Hancock explained that arrangements with the EU have been set out as the UK sticks to the plan to completely leave by December 31.
Matt Hancock has revealed further updates to the Brexit transition as he explained the basis of the UK’s future relationship with the EU has already been set out. The Health Secretary noted he isn’t spending time on Brexit because he is fully focused on the coronavirus at the moment but said there isn’t a need to anyway because the agreement is ready. It comes as Prime Minister Boris johnson is facing calls to delay the transition period by at least a year due to the crisis.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Hancock said: “It’s a while since I’ve discussed Brexit.
“The basis of the future arrangement is already set.
“We can get the details in place, there’s no reason to delay. I think we should just get on with it.
“But honestly it isn’t something I should be spending any time on personally at the moment because we’ve got this coronavirus to deal with.
“But it doesn’t need any time because we’ve got the basis of the agreement so, let’s get on and implement it.”
It comes as the US and Britain launch trade negotiations by videoconference on Tuesday following the country’s exit from the European Union, as both allies struggle with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and aim to shore up domestic supply chains.
The talks will be Washington’s first major new trade negotiation in 2020, and take place at the same time as London works out trade terms with the EU, with a year-end deadline.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said little publicly about the UK trade talks since publishing a sweeping set of objectives more than a year ago that sought full access for US agriculture products and reduced tariffs for US manufactured goods.
The Trump administration is looking to shift supply chains back to the United States and away from China, where the novel coronavirus originated, and is pushing a “Buy American” campaign for medical and other supplies.
Agriculture is expected to be among the thorniest issues in the talks, given the strong British opposition to US genetically modified crops and antibacterial treatments for poultry. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to drive a “hard bargain” and UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss has said that Britain would not diminish its food safety standards.
The top American business lobby, the US Chamber of Commerce, on Monday urged the two historic allies to eliminate all tariffs, saying that would boost the long-term outlook for both countries at a time when their economies have been hard hit by shutdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
The chamber said the two countries also could strengthen global trade rules to deal with challenges posed by non-market economies such as China.
Trade in goods between the United States and United Kingdom was valued at $127.1 billion (£102.1 billlion) in 2018, with the two sides roughly in balance, while the services trade topped $134.8 billion (£111.1billion).
Britain is the seventh-largest U.S. goods trading partner, after South Korea, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Ted Bromund, a senior research fellow in Anglo-American relations at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank in Washington, said one area ripe for tariff reduction was in automotive trade, Britain’s largest export sector to the United States. US passenger car tariffs are 2.5 percent, with pickup truck tariffs at 25 percent, while Britain maintain a 10 percent car tariff.
“There are lots of areas — digital trade, visa liberalization, financial services — but if you can’t agree to essentially get rid of tariffs on visible trade, I’m not sure it’s a free trade agreement,” Bromund said.