Do we really need a Transition period?

Do we really need a Transition period?

I do not want a Transition period before we leave the EU if it just means more delay and paying them more money.

The Prime Minister has been much more careful than some of the Cabinet in saying she will consider an Implementation period. We would only need that if there is a complex and comprehensive trade and partnership agreement which is agreed close to the March 2019 exit date. If this required some changes to borders, tax arrangements and the rest, that could take some time to put in place, and so an Implementation period would make sense. It is too early to say this will happen.

A better plan is for the UK to say now that we need to discuss trade and the future partnership: we still have more than a year to exit, which is plenty of time to put in place a Free Trade Agreement if both sides want one. Other trade deals take longer because the two sides are negotiating away existing barriers that they are often reluctant to let go. This one just requires codifying as an FTA the zero tariff and lower barrier model we already have.

The EU needs to answer one simple question: do they want a free trade agreement with the UK or not? If the answer is No, then we should just leave on March 29 2019, paying them nothing and going over to most favoured nation WTO terms as we use for much of the rest of the world at the moment. If they say yes, the UK should have ready a version of such an FTA based on the existing arrangements between the EU and the UK. The EU could then seek to amend it if they wish to impose some new barriers and duties in the way of their trade with us.

The Prime Minister and now the Foreign Secretary have always been clear we will leave the EU Single Market and Customs Union when we leave the EU itself. Twice Conservative MPs have voted on a three-line whip against continued membership of the Customs Union and Single Market. Both Labour and the Conservatives ran on manifestos at the last General Election that backed Brexit and said we would in future run our own trade policy, which of course means leaving the Customs Union. With a referendum and General Election result behind it, this policy has plenty of democratic endorsement.

I am concerned about offering large sums to the EU on departure that we do not owe them. There will need to be a very good future trade and partnership deal to persuade many of us that Parliament should vote for any large ex gratia payment to the EU as we leave.