Trade Secretary Liam Fox acknowledged it will be a stretch for Britain to negotiate a new trading relationship with the European Union by the time of their 2019 divorce in another sign that the U.K. government will seek a post-Brexit transitional period.
"There’s a growing consensus amongst the cabinet that we will leave the European Union, but we will have a transition and implementation phase,” Fox said on Monday during a trip to Washington. "It would be nice to think we could get a full trade agreement by the time we get to March 2019, but that would be an optimistic view of recent free-trade agreements.”
Prime Minister Theresa May’s government once maintained a trade pact would be possible by the time Brexit happens despite doubts within the EU and warnings it took Canada and the bloc seven years to negotiate a less ambitious agreement than the one she is seeking. Her failure to maintain a parliamentary majority in last month’s election and increasing calls from business to avoid a "cliff edge" are now forcing the government to rally behind a transitional period.
Once the decision was made to avoid a sharp break with the EU, the process of negotiating the exit is going to be akin to unwinding the Gordian knot. It is going to take a considerable amount of time and will eventually require some major decisions to be taken to break logjams in the negotiations. The very process of agreeing to the EU’s technocratic lexicon for the negotiation process already ensured the ordeal will takeBack to top