Sturgeon’s plea to extend Brexit transition period perfectly dismantled by legal expert

Brexit: Patel says there are 'no plans' for deadline extension

The transition period is set to end on December 31 with or without a deal in place. But the Scottish First Minister said it was imperative to put Britain’s exit of the EU on hold in wake of the new strain of coronavirus.

She wrote on Twitter: “It’s now imperative that PM seeks an agreement to extend the Brexit transition period.

“The new COVID strain – and the various implications of it – means we face a profoundly serious situation and it demands our 100 percent attention.

“It would be unconscionable to compound it with Brexit.”

But now, Maddy Thimont Jack, an associate director on the Institute for Government’s Brexit team, revealed any extension will take time which the “UK no longer has”.

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In a comment piece on the Institute for Government website, Ms Thimont Jack said: “Numerous politicians have called for an extension to the Brexit transition period.

“But a late transition extension is legally complicated and involves details that take time to agree – time the UK no longer has.

“The Government has repeatedly rejected calls to request an extension anyway, but it would struggle to find a way forward if it changed its mind.

“At this late stage compromising with the EU to get a deal is a far easier way to avoid what will be, however much the Government insists otherwise, a chaotic no deal Brexit.”

Ms Thimont Jack goes on to explain how under the Withdrawal Agreement, signed by Boris Johnson and the EU last year, an extension could only have been agreed by June 30.

She explained: “Back in the spring, EU leaders appeared open to just such an extension to allow both the EU and UK to focus on the pandemic response – but UK ministers refused to countenance this option, despite the clear risk that the Government would still be battling coronavirus at the end of the year.”

The Brexit expert goes on to say how with less than ten days before the end of the transition period there is “probably no time to agree the terms” of an extension.

However, she said: “If an agreement seems unlikely to be reached, the UK could ask the EU to take further unilateral measures.”

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But adds: “This would require considerable goodwill on the EU part – which is in short supply following the Government’s plans to break international law earlier this year.”

Ms Thimont Jack also lashed out at Mr Johnson’s continued claims the UK would “prosper mightily” if talks collapse.

She continued: “The Government should tell the public that no deal, at least in the short term, is a more painful choice and be straight about what it would mean on January 1 – instead of insisting again, as Boris Johnson did today, that the UK would ‘prosper mightily’ if talks collapse.

“If the Prime Minister wants the country to avoid the inevitable chaos of an acrimonious no deal Brexit in the midst of a pandemic hit by a new, more transmissible, strain, than compromising in the negotiations looks like his only choice.

“Whether agreeing to a deal ends up being a choice he regrets in the future is a risk he will be taking.”

Negotiations have been deadlocked on issues surrounding fishing, governance and the so-called level playing field.

Despite the transition period deadline looming closer, talks are set to continue this week in a desperate bid to secure a deal.

On Sunday, a UK Government source said: “Teams have been negotiating throughout the day and expect to continue tomorrow.

“Talks remain difficult and significant differences remain.

“We continued to explore every route to a deal that is in line with the fundamental principles we brought into the negotiations.”

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