Thank you for contacting me about the economy and your proposal to extend the transition period.
The deadline for extending the transition period has now passed. I also believe that an extension to the transition period would only have created more uncertainty for businesses. A future partnership agreement will provide stability in the long-term and encourage investment and trade.
An extension to the transition period could also have had significant economic and political consequences for the UK. Our contribution to the EU budget would have continued and we would have remained under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. The UK left the EU in January this year and the EU’s control over our affairs must come to an end.
Negotiations have continued throughout the coronavirus outbreak with discussions by videoconference in April, May and June following the first round of talks in March. Face-to-face negotiations have now resumed and the technical detail is well understood by both sides. The differences that remain are largely of a political nature and I am hopeful that these can be resolved. The UK is not asking for a special, bespoke, or unique deal. We are looking for a deal like those the EU has previously struck with other friendly countries like Canada.
The UK and the EU agreed that the transition period would end on 31 December as part of the Withdrawal Agreement. This is part of UK law.
No deal is now an irrelevant concept. The UK left the EU on 31 January with a deal. The question now is whether we can agree with the EU a deeper trading relationship on the lines of the free trade agreement the EU has with Canada, or whether we have a trading relationship based on the 2019 deal, without a free trade agreement on the lines of Australia’s. The UK and the EU have committed legally to reaching an agreement in good faith by the end of the year and the Government is working hard to achieve that outcome which would benefit both sides.
The Government has been clear that the UK will not align with EU rules in the future. Doing so would mean accepting EU rules on EU terms without any say and continuing to be governed by EU institutions.
The Prime Minister has explained that the UK will instead uphold high standards independently of the EU and I fully support this approach. The UK does not need to follow EU rules on workers’ rights, environmental protection or consumer safeguards to uphold standards in these areas. The UK already goes further than the EU, for instance, on maternity leave and statutory holiday entitlement.
Additionally, I can assure you that the implications of leaving the EU on the pharmaceutical supply are being considered as a high priority. I believe that it is important to minimise the risk of disruption and that is why the Department for Health and Social Care has asked all pharmaceutical companies to ensure that they have at least six weeks' supply of medicines in place in addition to their usual operational reserves. I am assured there has been a very good response from the industry and this work is going well.
Thank you again for contacting me.
Craig Whittaker MP