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Brexit Fox sets election deadline for EU transition
Liam Fox © Chatham House

Brexit: Fox sets election deadline for EU transition


UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox has said that any transitional arrangement with the EU after Brexit must end by the time of the next election.

Fox said he had no ideological objection to interim arrangements to minimise disruption after the UK’s exit in 2019.

However, he said he did not want them to “drag on” beyond the date of the next general election, scheduled for 2022.

The cabinet is said to be united behind a transition although reports it could last four years have been toned down.

UK Chancellor Philip Hammond is reported to support a lengthy transitional period in order to bring certainty to business, which is concerned about the impact on trade and employment of a ‘cliff-edge’ departure.

Newspaper reports on 21 July suggested ministers had acknowledged it could last anywhere between two and four years.

Fox, who is in Washington for discussions on future trade relations with the US, said it was “perfectly reasonable” for there to be a transition period to ensure the process was as “smooth as possible” for UK business and foreign investors.

However, he suggested that voters would want any “voluntary” arrangement to end by the time of the next general election, due to take place in May 2022.

“Having waited over 40 years to leave the EU, 24 months would be a rounding error.

“Whether that is 23 or 25 is not a huge deal and neither is it an ideological one.

“It is about the practical issues we would face, such as getting any new immigration system into place, getting any new customs system into place.”

Several Conservative Party MPs have suggested that any deal which required the UK to accept continued free movement for a limited period of time or the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in return for continued temporary membership of the single market would be unacceptable.

Pan European Networks Ltd