Theresa May may seek an extension to the Brexit transition as the question of the Irish border remains a major hurdle.
In an announcement in the Commons today, the Prime Minister announced that a deal with the EU was 95% settled. She did however admit that the issue over the border in Northern Ireland is still a “considerable” sticking point.
The Prime Minister said that the UK may ask for a short period of extension to the transition period. This period, which is due to start on 29 March, 2019, is a period intended to ease the UK into life outside the EU. Predominantly, the intention is to ensure businesses have the time needed to adjust to the new trading regime, in the case that the UK leaves the Single Market.
This period of time will be essential to allow businesses and public services, and in some cases citizens, to make the necessary adjustments. Certainly, some businesses have been calling for increases in the transition period for a while, arguing that the current period is too short.
Mrs May, under pressure from leave and remain supporting backbenchers said: “There are some limited circumstances in which it could be argued that an extension to the implementation period might be preferable”. Whilst not giving an exact time limit, the Prime Minister followed this up by saying it would be “only a short time” extra.
This comes a week after the EU itself volunteered to extend the period by a year. Currently, it is due to close at the end of 2020.
However, this has been met with anger, frustration and confusion by Conservatives and the wider public.
Brexiteers are keen to highlight that this period keeps Britain in a Brexit limbo, bound by its rules and tied to its institutions for another year. Jeremy Corbyn argued that Mrs May was once again placing the Conservative party interest ahead of the rest of the country, and that had she prioritised a sensible deal, this extension would not be needed.
Furthermore, it seems that the Prime Minister’s own position is in turmoil this evening with speculation that centrist Conservative MPs (equally unimpressed by Mrs May’s plan) are joining with Brexiteers in sending letters of no confidence to the 1922 Committee and party chair.
They want a sensible amount of letters, around 70, to be confident in their attempts to topple their embattled leader.
It may seem unusual, but remainers and leavers are united by their disapproval of the Chequers Agreements – the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan, and by coming together, they could form an Advocacy Coalition – a type of policy network guided by core beliefs.
If this is the case, rational arguments regarding the Prime Minister’s successor, or the possibility of a Labour Government, would lose their potency in contrast to their subjectivity and emotiveness. Their opposition is to both Brexit and Theresa May, both intrinsically bound after the Prime Minister seemingly took ownership of the Chequers Plan earlier this year.