Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith has predicted that the next stage in Britain’s withdrawal from the EU will be the “most difficult phase of all”.
Yesterday Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill was granted Royal Assent by the Queen, enshiring it in UK law, and the European Council and Commission presidents formally signed off the agreement this morning.
It means the UK will come out of the EU at 11pm next Friday and then enter a so-called “transition period” until the end of 2020.
During this phase, the UK will remain aligned with EU but, no longer being a member state, will have no vote on any law making.
Mr Duncan Smith warned that if the EU “wants to try and be awkward and difficult, they could start trying to impose laws on us that we have no say over”.
He urged that the UK must “settle this, one way or another, inside the next 12 months” to avoid “exposing ourselves for any long period of time to the idea that we are without any protection whatsoever against imposed law”.
The Prime Minister hailed the crossing of the “Brexit finish line” after the EU Withdrawal Agreement Act passed into law but now faces months of negotiations with Brussels to agree a trade deal.
Mr Duncan Smith said that Britain would have to “up our game way past where we’ve been at the moment” to strike a trade deal with the EU, who he admitted was “rather good at them”.
He also advised looking beyond Europe, specifically to the US.
Yesterday the Daily Express reported that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a deal by the end of 2020 was an “absolute priority” for Donald Trump’s administration.
talkRADIO: Listen live