UK to seek two year implementation period after Brexit in 2019, Theresa May confirms

Written by on 22 September 2017 in News

In a keynote speech in Florence, the Prime Minister said neither the UK or the EU would be ready to implement Brexit by March 2019

Theresa May - Image credit: Press Association

The UK is to seek a two year ‘implemention period’ after leaving the EU in March 2019, Theresa May confirmed in a speech in Florence today.

Delivering what had been expected to be a landmark speech, the Prime Minister said that agreement on a future partnership “would take time” and she would be seeking a period to make new arrangements “of around two years”.

During this transition period access to each other’s markets would continue on current terms, May suggested.

Britain would also continue to take part in existing security measures.


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May said: “But the fact is that, at that point [March 2019], neither the UK – nor the EU and its member states – will be in a position to implement smoothly many of the detailed arrangements that will underpin this new relationship we seek.

“Neither is the European Union legally able to conclude an agreement with the UK as an external partner while it is itself still part of the European Union.

“And such an agreement on the future partnership will require the appropriate legal ratification, which would take time.

“It is also the case that people and businesses – both in the UK and in the EU – would benefit from a period to adjust to the new arrangements in a smooth and orderly way.”

May also confirmed that the UK would its dues – thought to be in the region of £20bn – for agreements made while the UK was a member.

She said: “I do not want our partners to fear that they will need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave.

“The UK will honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership.”

May ruled out being a member of the European Economic Area, like Norway, or a free trade agreement, such as the one with Canada, suggesting: “We can do so much better than this.”

She suggested to her EU audience that “it is in all out interests to find a creative solution”.

In a change of tone from previous speeches, May also emphasised that the UK would still work with the European Union, including on security matters.

“Our decision to leave the European Union is in no way a repudiation of this longstanding commitment,” she said.

“We may be leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe.”

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