Brussels madness: EU could demand Brexit extension to keep Britain tied down till 2020

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a French newspaper Boris Johnson’s move to enshrine this December as the end of the transition period does not given enough time to agree a free trade agreement. Negotiations cannot begin until Britain leaves at the end of January. Mrs von der Leyen told Les Echos: “I am very worried given the little time we have.

“It’s not only about negotiating a free trade deal but many other subjects.

“It seems to me that on both sides we must ask ourselves seriously if all these negotiations are feasible in such a short time.”

She added: “I believe that it would be reasonable to review things in the middle of the year, if necessary to see if an extension is needed.”

The UK could ask for a one or two year extension but must do so by July 1.

The UK would be obliged to follow EU obligations until they are over written by another agreement.

The Brexit Party stood down in the 317 seats won by the Tories at the 2017 general election after Mr Johnson said there would be no extension and pledged to go for a Canada style free trade agreement.

The EU would be looking for an agreement on the future relationship with the UK to be completed alongside a trade deal.

Mr Johnson insisted he would not ask for more time and is preparing legislation to prevent that.

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If a trade deal is not reached by December 31 and ratified, Britain will have to trade under World Trade Organisation terms involving tariffs.

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A senior diplomat from the EU had told Telegraph: “The more Britain will diverge from common standards and regulations, the more time we will need to negotiate a comprehensive trade deal.

“Due to the 11-month time limit imposed by London, the risk of a cliff edge by the end of 2020 has risen considerably.”

However, a senior Government source hit back, responding: “EU officials claimed that they wouldn’t reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, but they did as it was plainly in our shared interest.

“There is clearly political will on both sides that will ensure we can conclude an ambitious free trade agreement by the end of next year.”

According to the Government website there will be trade agreements in place with several counties as soon as Britain leaves on January 31.

In Europe these cover the Faroe Islands, Georgia, Iceland, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

In Asia this covers Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and South Korea.

In the Americas these agreements cover Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, 13 nations in the CARIFORUM bloc, 6 nations in Central America and Chile.

A further 12 states in Africa plus Fiji and Papua New Guinea are also covered by agreements.


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