London: Britain on Wednesday raised doubts about an EU-proposed deadline of December 31, 2020, for ending a post-Brexit transition period allowing time for the two sides to strike an agreement on future trade ties.
According to a leaked document published by British media, the government said that it was still aiming for the transition period to last around two years after Britain leaves the European Union on March 29, 2019.
But it said the precise duration of the period “should be determined simply by how long it will take to prepare and implement the new processes and new systems that will underpin the future partnership”.
Britain “wishes to discuss with the EU the assessment that supports its proposed end date,” it said.
An agreement on the future partnership between Britain and the EU cannot be concluded until it has actually left the bloc and current negotiations are over the conditions of withdrawal and the transition.
The document was a response to conditions set out by Brussels for a transition period requested by Britain with the intention of allowing businesses and the general public time to adjust to life after Brexit.
It said that there was “broad alignment” and “only a small number of areas requiring discussion”.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May played down the document saying there was “nothing remotely new”.
Britain has said it wants to leave the European single market and customs union at the moment of Brexit but then continue trading with the European Union “on current terms” during the transition period.
The EU has said this can only happen if Britain agrees to follow all current EU rules including freedom of movement for citizens.
Pro-Brexit MPs have warned this risks Britain becoming a “vassal state” of the EU during the transition period.
The government document issued on Wednesday also called for “arrangements” to ensure “mutual good faith” regarding any new EU laws adopted during the transition period, without giving further details.
A group of pro-Brexit Conservative MPs known as the European Research Group (ERG) also on Wednesday sent a letter to May with a number of suggestions for securing a successful Brexit.
The letter, which was signed by 62 lawmakers, in particular emphasised that Britain should be able to negotiate its own free trade deals with other countries as soon as it leaves the bloc.
It also said that any transition period “should be based on WTO principles”.
“Any implementation period must not restrain the UK from negotiating or signing other trade agreements,” they said.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)