Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove stated he had formally confirmed with the EU the UK Government would not extend the transition period, as “the moment for extension has now passed”.
North Down MP Dr Farry said failure to secure a comprehensive future relationship agreement by the end of the year would dramatically impact the nature of checks and bureaucracy down the Irish Sea interface.
“The UK Government’s decision to rule out an extension to the Brexit implementation period is utterly reckless. Doing a deal by December was always going to be very challenging, but is much more complicated with the demands of the dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant recession. There is only so much bandwidth for Government, alongside businesses and other stakeholders to prepare.
“For us in Northern Ireland, the immediate focus has been to work within the Withdrawal Agreement to minimise the impact of the checks and bureaucracy on the Irish Sea interface. If there is no comprehensive future relationship by December, then the nature and scale of requirements will much greater and dramatic, bringing significant political and economic implications. Those recklessly charging ahead with Brexit need to reflect on that.
“Ultimately, there is an obvious suspicion the UK Government is determined to proceed with the current timescale in order to mask the economic damage of Brexit within the wider economic turbulence arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.”