Raab: UK Must ‘Double Down’ on Getting EU Trade Deal by Brexit Deadline

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First Secretary of State Dominic Raab has said that the UK must “double down” on agreeing to a deal with the EU by the end of this year.

Mr Raab made the statement while leading Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday as Boris Johnson was attending to his fiancée Carrie Symonds, who had just given birth, and the couple’s new baby son.

The first secretary of state, who is also the foreign secretary, repeated that the end of the transition period — December 31st, 2020 — is legally set in stone and that the Conservative government has no intention of extending, despite pressure from leftists and Europhiles to delay the UK’s exit from Brussels’ institutions due to coronavirus.

“Let’s be very clear about it, our position is unchanged. The transition period ends on the 31st of December, that is enshrined in law,” Mr Raab said.

“There is no intention of changing that and actually what we should do now… is focus on removing any additional uncertainty, doing a deal by the end of the year and allowing both the UK and the European Union and all of its member states to bounce back as we come through the coronavirus.”

He added that “the right thing for us to do is to double down, get a deal by the end of this year” which he said would “give a shot in the arm to businesses on both sides of the Channel, and that is what we’re absolutely, wholeheartedly focused on doing”.

The UK officially left the European Union on January 31st, 2020, but for the following 11 months remains in a transition — or implementation — period during which the country is subject to EU rules and regulations, aligned with the Customs Union, and member of the Single Market (including Freedom of Movement). During this time, London and Brussels are to work on a new trading relationship.

While the EU has said that the transition period can be delayed for up two years – until 2023 – the UK has enshrined in law that the date cannot be extended. Furthermore, the government has said that if sufficient progress on a deal is not made by June, the country would withdraw from negotiations and prepare for an orderly entry onto World Trade Organization terms.

However, while the government has been talking tough on negotiations with Brussels, senior Cabinet minister Michael Gove recently revealed that the Johnson administration, in its confidence of agreeing on a deal, is making no plans for a WTO exit — potentially weakening Britain’s negotiating hand by revealing that the country is not serious about preparing to walk away without a trade agreement.

Members of the European Parliament, Labour politicians, and other British Europhiles have been pressuring the UK to extend the transition period because of coronavirus. Even career bureaucrats from the notoriously Remain-backing Civil Service have expressed dismay that the government-appointed counterparts are refusing to discuss an extension.

Critics have claimed that leaving the EU without a deal during the pandemic would negatively affect the British economy. However, other sources speaking to the media have said that some European countries have admitted that it will make little difference to the UK leaving the Single Market, given the current impact coronavirus is having on the global economy.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has warned that if the UK extends, the country could become pulled into the looming EU financial crisis.

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