Transitional Arrangements: Timetable

Exiting the European Union – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd November 2017.

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Photo of Eleanor Smith Eleanor Smith Labour, Wolverhampton South West 12:00 am, 2nd November 2017

What the timetable is for agreement on transitional arrangements for the UK leaving the EU.

Photo of David Davis David Davis The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

We will build a bridge from our exit to our future partnership to allow business and people time to adjust, and to allow new systems to be put in place. It makes sense, therefore, for there to be only one set of changes. The Prime Minister’s Florence speech laid out our proposal for a strictly time-limited implementation period, based on the existing structure of EU rules and regulations, to provide certainty to individuals and businesses. The European Council has set out the possibility of such a period in its guidelines. We intend to get the form of the implementation period agreed as early as possible.

Photo of Eleanor Smith Eleanor Smith Labour, Wolverhampton South West

The Chancellor has described the proposal for a transitional arrangement as a “wasting asset” for businesses: the arrangements will become less valuable the longer it takes to negotiate them, as they will cease to provide certainty about the future. Does the Secretary of State agree with that assessment? Will he therefore rule out lengthy negotiations over the terms of the transitional arrangements?

Photo of David Davis David Davis The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

The hon. Lady makes a good point. There are three reasons for the implementation period. One is to give businesses a significant amount of time after the decisions are made, so that they can make their decisions on the basis of clarity and certainty. The second is to give the Government time to prepare changes in the regulatory structures, regulations, customs and all the other things we have to do. The third is to give foreign Governments time to make accommodations too, because we will depend on, for example, French customs arrangements. Those are the three reasons. The first is, as the Chancellor says, a wasting asset if it goes on for very long—not immediately, but if it goes on for very long.

The European Council is, I think, on 13 or 14 December —anyway, it is in the middle of December. If it finds that there has been sufficient progress at that point, we will start straightaway and conclude as fast as we can. However, it is a negotiation and there are two sides to make the decision. The hon. Lady can take it as read that we will be as quick as we can on that to give as great an amount of certainty as early as possible to British business.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

We are better informed as a result of the insistence of the right hon. Gentleman on including in his answer any consideration that might be thought, in any way at any time, to be in any degree material.

Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Infrastructure and Energy)

In the event of a no deal, why would the EU agree to a transitional period?

Photo of David Davis David Davis The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

In the light of your comments, Mr Speaker, the hon. Gentleman will have to ask the European Union that.