British Prime Minister Theresa May was the first to raise the possibility of extending the transition period beyond 2020 with the EU’s leaders. This is according to Donald Tusk, the president of the European council.
Tusk said: “Since Prime Minister May mentioned the idea of extending the transition period, let me repeat that if the UK decided that such an extension would be helpful to reach a deal, I am sure that the leaders would be ready to consider it positively.”
As reported by The Guardian, under the terms of the 21-month transition period so far negotiated, the UK would continue to live under EU rules and laws, but without any say in their design, as the country would not have any representation in the bloc’s institutions.
The prime minister was already on the back foot on the issue after cabinet papers leaked to the Times revealed that the UK could be locked in a transition period lasting years rather than the few months she has promised.
In response to Tusk’s comments, the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who remains an MEP, said: “Mr Tusk, I want to thank you for confirming that it was Theresa May that asked for the one-year extension to the transition period”.
According to The Guardian, the debate in the European parliament in Strasbourg was notable for an impassioned speech by the European commission vice-president, Frans Timmermans, who signalled his belief that the British public had the right to think again about Brexit and asked whether the Tories, “the party of Churchill”, had been “eaten by Ukip”.
His comments came in response to an attack by Syed Kamall, the leader of the group in which Tory MEPs sit in parliament, on the socialist group’s leader, Udo Bullmann.
Bullmann, a German MEP, had moments before broken from Jeremy Corbyn’s position and backed a new Brexit poll, leading Kamall to claim that the Nazis had been socialists.
Timmermans accused Kamall of aping the language of Farage. “Is it as Churchill predicted when he talked about appeasers. The only thing you get by feeding the crocodile is that the crocodile will eat you last?” the former Dutch foreign minister asked.
“Has the Conservative party finally been eaten by Ukip? I hope not. I do hope not. I say this because I will make no secret of my deep admiration and affection for the UK and everything it has achieved during its history … The European Union is an instrument to help European people solve their differences at the negotiating table instead of the battlefield.
“The European Union is a guarantee that no British soldiers will have to be sent to battlefields in Europe again as they have so valiantly done in our common history. The European Union is the best guarantee for peace in Europe for the ages to come and for one of the biggest member states to leave is an incredibly sad moment and I want to say that in this house. As a democrat, indeed as a human being, who in this house has never ever changed their minds on anything? But we will leave that with the British people. That is not for us to judge.”