Brexit package hailed as ‘good’ deal with no likely ‘substantive’ changes
by Richard Moore | 20th November 2018
THE Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark believes the Brexit package now on the table is the best deal the UK is likely to be offered by Brussels.
He has dismissed the idea that the deal with the EU could now be changed and explained: “If you think about the time that has gone into that negotiation, and the detail it comprises, I think this deal – which is a good one in my view – is the one that will go to the European Council.”
Pressed on whether the outline for a future relationship could be altered, he added: “Not in any substantive sense.”
The Business Secretary was talking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday [November 19].Mr Clark indicated the Prime Minister wants the option of extending the transition period for Brexit, an extra two years to the end of 2022. This is a move suggested by the EU and one likely to anger
Mr Clark argued that extending the transition period at their ‘discretion’ could help stop businesses having to change working practices twice.
This seems a possibility if a final trade deal has not been sealed by December 2020.
“Businesses, especially small businesses, have said very clearly that they would much prefer to have one change, rather than have to change things twice, to two different regimes,” he explained.
“It [the extension] would be at our request, and that would be a maximum period. It would be an option for us, and there is value in having an option – rather than going in for a temporary period into the backstop and having a second change if the UK wanted, to extend the transition period.”
Mr Clark did not reject the idea of an extension: “The point is that if we have the option we don’t have to use it. Our strong preference is clearly to complete the negotiations.
Following this, Tory MP Philip Davies [on Tuesday] accused Mr Clark of ‘freelancing’ for the EU during Business Strategy Questions in Parliament.