UK eyes longer Brexit transition and asks EU to talk dates


LONDON • UK Prime Minister Theresa May is asking the European Union (EU) to rethink its plan to end the Brexit transition period that businesses want on the final day of 2020, suggesting such a bridging phase should last as long as it’s needed.

The British suggestion of a longer bridging phase risks inflaming May’s already tense relations with eurosceptics in her own Tory party. They want her to take the UK out of the bloc as soon as possible and keep any transitional arrangements to a minimum.

May said she wants such an implementation period to last around two years, while the EU has stipulated an end date of Dec 31, 2020.

“The UK believes the period’s duration should be determined simply by how long it will take to prepare and implement the new processes and new systems that will underpin the future partnership,” May’s government said in a draft legal document seen by Bloomberg.

“The UK agrees this points to a period of around two years, but wishes to discuss with the EU the assessment that supports its proposed end date.”

The legal text sets out the UK’s proposals for a transitional agreement to take effect after it leaves the EU in March 2019. The idea of a transition phase is to smooth the UK’s path out of the bloc and give time for British and European businesses to adjust to the new arrangements.

On Monday night, a letter emerged from 62 Brexit-supporting Tory lawmakers to May in which they demanded restrictions on any transitional terms that she agrees on.