UK transition deal with the EU ‘could last until 2022,’ Brexit Secretary admits
Britain could stay in a transition deal with the EU until the end of 2022, Brexit secretary Steve Barclay has said.
Mr Barlclay's comments are a significant weakening in the language of top Tories around the issue – as speculation mounts that they will try and finalise a deal with the EU before the October 31 deadline.
The Brexit Secretary suggested that the transition could be extended until December 2022 to allow more time to crack tense negotiations in Northern Ireland about reconvening the Stormont in Belfast.
The region has been left without a government for more than two years after a breakdown in the power-sharing arrangements between Sinn Féin and the DUP over the 'cash for ash' scandal.
The UK government is hopeful that a newly minted administration in Belfast could give democratic consent to alternative arrangements around the Northern Irish border.
Mr Barclay claimed that "there is a landing zone we can see” in negotiations with Brussels.
He told the BBC: “It is the case that operationally these issues do not apply until the end of the implementation period, which is December 2020 or one or two years later by mutual agreement.”
Boris Johnson and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker meet in Luxembourg tomorrow as the government tries to reignite negotiations, which the EU has described as "paralysed".
Mr Johnson will tuck into snails, salmon and cheese as he dines with EU chief Mr Juncker to try and rescue the UK's withdrawal plan.
Fuelling hopes of a breakthrough before a crunch October 17-18 summit, the PM claimed he thinks "we will get there" and that a "huge amount of progress is being made".
He said: "I will be talking to Jean-Claude about how we're going to do it.
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