Michel Barnier: EU ‘open’ to two-year Brexit extension

David Frost addresses MPs

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The European Union would allow a two-year extension to the Brexit transition period if the UK asked for one, according to Michel Barnier

Westminster leaders of the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Green Party and Alliance Party had written to the bloc’s chief negotiator on May 15 calling more time to strike a trade deal amid growing deadlock.

Mr Barnier responded: “Such an extension of up to one or two years can be agreed jointly by the two parties.

“The European Union has always said that we remain open on this matter.”

The SNP’s Ian Blackford urged Boris Johnson to accept the offer to help protect the economy during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost told MPs today that the government’ policy not to delay remained “firm”, saying “if asked, we would not agree to it”.

He added: “I think we have always put a lot of emphasis on economic and political freedom at the end of this year and on avoiding ongoing significant payments into the EU budget.

“And, of course, those things are accomplished by ending the transition period at the end of the year.”

Though the UK formally left the EU on January 31, it will remain aligned to the EU until the end of 2020 while details of the departure are ironed out.

If the UK does wish to ask for more time, it must do so by the end of June.

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