Grant Shapps hit out at demands the transition period with the EU should be extended from Michel Barnier. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said that the UK could not refuse to extend the transition while slowing down discussions on important areas. The Transport Secretary refuted claims there had been no progress, and emphasised that an extension would not be “entertained”.
Mr Shapps told the daily briefing: “People may not be aware that these have been continuing in this period, and they take place via video.
“The latest round has just taken place, and it included some very good progress on some areas.
“For example, NG transport and civil nuclear all made significant progress.
“Transport is one of the areas where actually there isn’t necessarily quite so much distance between us.”
He continued: “It is true to say that this country voted to leave the EU, even though I myself did not in that referendum.
“We’ve also had a general election since in which a lot of people voted for the manifesto saying that this is exactly what we are going to do.
“We’re not going to entertain an extension to the transition period. That remains the case.
“We think the best way of providing certainty to all businesses out there is to know that we’re not going to keep chopping and changing.”
The Transport Secretary added: “The transition period will end at the end of the year.
“We will carry on these negotiations with the EU in good faith, along with negotiations with other countries in the world.”
The deadline for the trade agreement is December 31, 2020.
The cut-off point for requesting an extension to the transition period is June.
The UK is currently in an 11-month transition period after officially leaving the EU at the end of January.
Although the UK has ceased to be an EU member, Britain still has to continue to follow its rules and contribute to its budget – during the transition.
The purpose of the transition period is to give time for the UK and EU to negotiate their future relationship, including a trade deal.
Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost and EU counterpart Michel Barnier have resumed discussions by video call as they race to strike an agreement before the deadline.