Liberal Democrat leader Sir Edward ‘Ed’ Davey is attempting to use the Chinese coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to delay Britain’s true Brexit from the European Union, arguing that a two-year delay is “just common sense”.
“We are facing the deepest recession in 300 years [a]fter the most serious public health crisis in over 100 years,” he argued in a statement posted on social media.
“With a climate emergency that demands action now Delaying Brexit by 2 years is just common sense,” he claimed — although the link between the pandemic and an alleged “climate emergency” was left unclear.
The 54-year-old’s choice of words was revealing, as, formally Brexit has already happened, with the United Kingdom leaving the European Union in January 2020.
However, it is now in a so-called “transition period” with the bloc in which it remains an EU member-state in all but name, still subject to its laws, its judges, its trade policy, and its migration regime, among other things — with the only real change being that Britain has lost its representation in EU institutions such as the European Commission and the supranational Court of Justice.
We are facing the deepest recession in 300 years
After the most serious public health crisis in over 100 years
With a climate emergency that demands action now
— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇺 #StayHomeSaveLives #ProtectNHS (@EdwardJDavey) May 28, 2020
Sir Ed’s proposal to extend the transition for two years — meaning that, the better part of a decade on from the British people’s vote to Leave the European Union, the country would still not be free of the bloc in a meaningful sense — is backed by a range of EU loyalist British opposition leaders, as well as the EU itself.
Indeed, a plan to extend the transition was reportedly “all but agreed at official level” while Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his chief adviser Dominic Cummings were out of action with coronavirus infections — but this was “scuppered” when the later recovered and returned to work.
Now that Cummings’ is under pressure to resign from his position over claims that a move from London to Durham during the lockdown to ensure his young son’s childcare needs could be met, however, the efforts of politicians to delay Brexit by the EU and British EU loyalists like Sir Ed have intensified, with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier writing an open letter to British opposition politicians to make it clear that a two-year extension is very much on offer.
The official position of Boris Johnson’s government is that it will not agree to any extension — at least for now.
Thank you @MichelBarnier for your letter today confirming the EU is open to a two-year extension to the Brexit transition period.
— Ian Blackford (@Ianblackford_MP) May 27, 2020