Boris has been warned not to delay the end of the transition period to avoid being caught up by an economic fall out triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
A pro-Brexit lobby group warned of the repercussions to Britain of any major shock to the European Union’s ailing economy in the coming months. Brexit Watch said the mountainous piles of toxic debts built up by the bloc’s government could easily spill over into the British economy as a result of a new financial crash. Former Brexit Party MEPs Ben Habib and Brian Monteith established the pressure group to hold Mr Johnson to account while he negotiates the UK’s future relationship with Brussels.
They believe the fragile eurozone could be on the brink of a major implosion triggered by the global economic and political fallout of coronavirus.
The Prime Minister was urged to leave the EU’s single market and customs union at the end of the year to limit the UK’s exposure to the impending crisis – which is expected to hit the bloc much harder than the 2008 financial collapse.
Brexit Watch chairman Mr Habib said: “This is much worse than 2008. Those countries who recover first will do the best.
“I think it’s absolutely imperative if the United Kingdom wants any semblance of a sensible economy as we come out of this we have to be one of the first to recover – only by being one of the first to recover will you avoid the worst of what will be a very, very back recession.
”As the Spanish have rightfully identified, the European Union, or parts of it, are going to be hit much harder than other parts of the world because they go into it with very high unemployment and very high national debt levels – particularly in Italy, Greece, France and Spain.”
But the UK must continue to distance itself from the EU to avoid being dragged into the looming Eurozone financial crunch via liabilities of around £439 billion to the European Investment Bank and other agreements with Brussels.
Mr Habib added: “It is something we’ve not negotiated away as part of the Withdrawal Agreement.
”That could be a massive hit, and it will be the rich countries that pick up the tab, if or when, Greece, Spain or France go bust – it will be Germany and the United Kingdom that pick up that tab.”
The UK’s estimated bill would be at around £150billion, around half the amount of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s package to fight the effect of coronavirus on the economy.
The Treasury has pledged at least £350billion as part of the Government’s coronavirus rescue packages for the economy.
Mr Johnson has vowed not to let coronavirus derail his plans to secure a trade deal with Brussels by the end of the year.
Trade talks ground to a halt after Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, tested positive for COVID-19 and David Frost, the Prime Minister’s top Europe adviser, self-isolated after developing mild symptoms.
Brussels is attempting to pressure the UK into considering to extend the transition period beyond the end of the year.
The European People’s Party, the EU Parliament’s largest political bloc, said the UK should do the “responsible thing” and seek to delay its exit from the single market and customs union.
But the Government rebuked the request and insisted they are still on track to complete the Brexit process this year.
A UK spokesman said: “The transition period ends on December 31, 2020, as enshrined in UK law, which the Prime Minister has made clear he has no intention of changing.”