A row is underway in the Conservative party over the Brexit transition period. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the all-powerful European Research Group (the Brexit wing of the Tory party), has said he would rather extend Article 50 than have a transition period in which the UK is a rule-taker from the EU.
Despite this, a transition period is what’s on the menu for Britain come March 2019. So, David Davis attempted to use his speech today on the topic to try and calm Tory nerves. The Brexit Secretary tried to provide a voice of calm (and a voice of true Brexit) after Philip Hammond sparked anger on Thursday with comments suggesting the UK would stay very closely aligned to the EU.
Speaking on the ‘implementation period’, Davis conceded that the UK would still effectively follow the rules of the EU customs union for the period immediately after Brexit. In that time Britain will not be at the decision-making table.
The silver-lining – or at least what the government is trying to push as a positive – is that Britain will be an ‘independent’ country free to negotiate trade deals:
‘As an independent country – no longer a member of the European Union – the United Kingdom will once again have its own trading policy.’
Only there’s a catch – no such trade deals could come into force until the implementation period has ended. Whether or not this is enough to satisfy the Brexit wing of the party remains to be seen – my suspicion is that it won’t be.