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What is the "transition" period?

Editorial Staff

The UK, for some reason, has decided to call this an "implementation" period." Essentially, it's a period during which the UK will wean itself off EU law and regulation.

Exit day being exit day, it's clear that there is absolutely no hope of everything being in place by exit day.

It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period, ending on 31 December 2020, during which the UK will, essentially, extract itself from the EU machine.

What if that isn't long enough? There is a provision for the transitional period to be extended but there is a view that this can only happen once.

What if that extended period isn't long enough? No one knows.

The major problem is that there seems to be a common approach that every part of the brexit deal must be negotiated simultaneously, as a single package, and so no agreement is fixed until everything is agreed. This is not entirely true but it is not false, either. Because of this refusal to adopt a piecemeal approach, a refusal on both sides of the negotiations, it means that there is always going to be uncertainty over everything, rather than providing certainty here and there as negotiations continue.

It also means that, whatever happens on exit day, there will be amply opportunity for both sides to cock up the next 18 months as they will, by then, have done the previous two years.

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