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Brexit transition

Published: 12 Jun 2020 11:03

First Minister writes to Prime Minister.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Welsh First Minster Mark Drakeford have written to the Prime Minister to request an extended Brexit transition period to complete negotiations and support businesses through recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The joint letter reiterates that an extension is essential to avoid needless damage to Scotland’s economy at a time when COVID-19 is hitting businesses when they are most vulnerable.

The transition period is scheduled to finish on 31 Dec 2020 but can be extended by mutual agreement provided a decision is taken by 1 July.

Ms Sturgeon and Mr Drakeford said:

“Without an extension to the transition period, at very best there will only be a damaging ‘bare bones’ trade deal or even worse, a disastrous no deal outcome. We are mindful that the Withdrawal Agreement only permits an extension of the transition period if this has been agreed before the end of June.

“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.

“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. But in this case, the shock would be avoidable.

“No-one could reproach the UK Government for changing its position in the light of the wholly unforeseeable COVID-19 crisis, particularly as the EU has made it clear it is open to an extension request. We therefore call on you to take the final opportunity which the next few weeks provide to ask for an extension to the transition period in order to provide a breathing space to complete the negotiations, to implement the outcome, and to give our businesses the opportunity to find their feet after the enormous disruption of recent months.”