LONDON, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) — Two of Prime Minister Theresa May’s leading ministers said in a joint pledge Sunday that there will be a fixed transition period after Britain leaves the European Union (EU).
But the pro-remain chancellor Philip Hammond and leave supporter and Secretary for International Trade, Liam Fox both insist Britain will not be staying in the EU by the “backdoor”.
In an article in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Hammond and Fox jointly declare Britain will completely leave the single market and customs union after Brexit in 2019.
The Telegraph comments that after a summer of bitter infighting between cabinet ministers, Hammond and Fox, with their joint pledge, appear to have buried the hatchet.
The newspaper adds that Theresa May, who is returning to 10 Downing Street this week after a walking holiday in the Italian Alps, will be hoping that the declaration of resolve by Hammond and Fox will draw a line under weeks of damaging headlines in which the Chancellor had been accused of trying to derail Brexit.
The two ministers say a transition period will be time limited and designed to avoid a cliff edge that could damage British business. They did not stipulate a likely length of time for any transitional period.
In their article, Hammond and Fox say: “We respect the will of the British people; in March 2019 the United Kingdom will leave the European Union.”
But they noted that “We want our economy to remain strong and vibrant through this period of change. That means businesses need to have confidence that there will not be a cliff-edge when we leave the EU in just over 20 months’ time.”
They further explained “That is why we believe a time-limited interim period will be important to further our national interest and give business greater certainty, but it cannot be indefinite; it cannot be a back door to staying in the EU.”
The two ministers add they are both clear that during any transitional period Britain will be outside the European single market and outside the customs union and will be a “third-country” not party to EU treaties.
Explaining what a transitional period would mean, Hammond and Fox said: “During this period our (British) borders must continue to operate smoothly; goods bought on the internet must still cross borders; businesses must still be able to supply their customers across the EU and our innovative, world-leading companies must be able to hire the talent they need, including from within the EU.”
Once any interim period is over, add Hammond and Fox, Britain will want a permanent, treaty-based arrangement with the EU which supports the closest possible relationship with Brussels, retaining close ties of security, trade and commerce.
Brexit negotiations between the EU and Britain’s Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, are scheduled to resume in Brussels later this month.