Sadiq Khan has written a letter to the government in which he called for an extension to the Brexit transition period to avoid “needless and hazardous” impacts during the economic crisis spurred on by the Chinese coronavirus.
The Europhile mayor of London wrote to the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove — the minister in charge of the country’s Brexit talks with the European Union — saying that an “extension to the transition period is now urgently needed to give businesses and public services some certainty” during the coronavirus crisis.
“The last thing the country needs as it tries to find a way back from the devastation wreaked by coronavirus is more chaos and uncertainty,” he wrote, per City A.M.
“I urge the government to put political ideology aside and pursue the pragmatic route of seeking an extension to the negotiations so that we and our European partners can focus on recovery from Covid-19,” he added.
The move by Khan comes in opposition to the party line set out by Labour leader Keir Starmer, who said last week that the issue of Brexit was “over” and pledged not to campaign to rejoin the EU.
“We’ve left the EU, and therefore the Leave/Remain argument is over and the only argument now is what sort of a deal we have with the EU and what sort of deals we have with the rest of the world,” Starmer said.
Brexit Day: Sadiq Khan ‘Heartbroken’ Britain is Finally Leaving the EU https://t.co/dPn7dmP2Ba
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 31, 2020
Khan’s attempt to stymie the UK from reclaiming full independence from the bloc comes after the EU’s trade negotiator, Michel Barnier, wrote a letter to a group of Europhile MPs, saying that the bloc would support extending the transition period by up to two years.
The proposed delay would effectively postpone Brexit until 2023 — seven years after the British people voted to leave.
A government spokesman said in response to the mayor’s letter: “An extension to the transition period would bind us into future EU legislation, without us having any say in designing it, but still having to foot the bill as we would still have to make payments into the EU budget.”
“The EU themselves have said that their next budget will be unusual, and we would have no say in what it would go towards.
“We need to be able to design our own rules, in our best interests, to manage our response to coronavirus – without the constraints of following EU rules,” the spokesman added.
Teams of negotiators from the UK and the EU will meet this week and meetings between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are scheduled for next month.
The top negotiator for the UK, David Frost, has pledged that if there is no progress made, Britain will walk away from talks and begin preparing to trade with the bloc on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.
“It’s the firm policy of the government that we will not extend the transition period and, if asked, we would not agree to it,” Frost said.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan says "structural racism" in Britain has led to more racial minorities dying from coronavirus. https://t.co/sAUVrZc4Fr
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) April 22, 2020
Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka