Calls for government to extend Brexit negotiations

One of the UK’s leading business groups has called for the government to request an extension to the Brexit negotiation period to help minimise economic disruption.

In a report published last week, the Institute of Directors outlined several options for the government and EU negotiators that would promote a business-friendly Brexit.

It said that extending that Article 50 deadline would be “the simplest solution for all”, giving both parties more time to define their trading relationship after the UK’s departure.

However, it conceded that this would be “a very politically challenging option” to negotiate both within the European Union and within the House of Commons.

The IoD also suggested membership of the European Economic Area, which – although not straightforward – would give the UK some autonomy in implementing EU rules.

Another option is to extend the application of EU laws, which would provide more stability but would leave the UK with less control and input than EEA membership.

To accompany the aforementioned options, the report said a transitional customs agreement would replicate the benefits of being in the EU Customers Union during the process.

“Businesses will be pleased that ministers increasingly acknowledge the importance of a transition period in the Brexit process to minimise economic disruption,” said Allie Renison, head of EU and trade policy at the Institute of Directors.

“There is now a window of opportunity for the government to flesh this out as a policy objective in order to reassure companies that a smooth and orderly Brexit is on the cards.

“Prioritising interim arrangements and thereby mitigating the risks of EU exit means the eventual opportunities aren’t diminished by short-term chaotic cliff edges.

“The IoD has put forward this range of options for transition in the hopes that it sparks a proper debate on the practicalities of how best to Brexit. We look forward to engaging with both the government and the EU on these proposals.”

For the full report, see the IoD website.

Photo © Duncan Hill (CC BY 2.0). Cropped.

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