Scots and Welsh pleas rejected

Gove: Brexit transition will not be extended

Letter: Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford

UK Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has ruled out any chance of an extension to the Brexit transition period, saying the decision will bring certainty to businesses.

Mr Gove announced the decision today, adding: “The moment for extension has now passed”.

His announcement came after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her counterpart in Wales, Mark Drakeford, wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to extend the transition period for exiting the European Union.

In a post on Twitter, Mr Gove said he had chaired a “constructive” meeting of the EU Joint Committee with EU Commission Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations Maros Sefcovic.

Michael Gove

Michael Gove: ‘taking back control’

He said: “I formally confirmed the UK will not extend the transition period & the moment for extension has now passed. On January 1, 2021, we will take back control and regain our political & economic independence.” He later added that it would provide certainty to businesses, enabling them to plan for the UK’s exit.

Earlier, Ms Sturgeon and Mr Drakeford said in a joint missive that the coronavirus crisis had made meeting the year-end deadline “extraordinarily reckless”.

Mr Johnson has repeatedly ruled out asking the EU for an extension and the deadline for such a request is just weeks away.

During the transition period, Britain is maintaining the status quo of membership of the bloc and trying to negotiate a free trade agreement which ministers believe is still achievable in the timeframe.

The two first ministers argue that the COVID-19 outbreak has changed circumstances and expectations since the transition timing was agreed.

They said that without an extension, Britain would “at very best” be left with a “damaging ‘bare bones’ trade deal or even worse, a disastrous no deal outcome”.

We believe that exiting the transition period at the end of the year would be extraordinarily reckless

– Letter from First Ministers

They wrote: “While we hope that the second half of this year will see the beginnings of a recovery, we believe that exiting the transition period at the end of the year would be extraordinarily reckless.

“It would pile a further very significant economic and social shock on top of the COVID-19 crisis, hitting businesses whose reserves, in many case, have already been exhausted, leading to more business closures and redundancies.

“At the time the withdrawal agreement was signed, no-one could have imagined the enormous economic dislocation which the COVID-19 pandemic has caused – in Wales, Scotland, the whole of the UK, in the EU and across the world.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack this morning said he believed the EU would eventually concede to UK requests and that a deal would be done.

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