There are many things to worry about with Brexit, but the terms of the transition should be pretty low down that list. The transition was always going to have to be off-the-shelf (if you could negotiate a bespoke transition, you might as well do the final deal) and as long as it is time-limited, it shouldn’t be a problem. Indeed, it should help smooth out Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Bill Cash’s urgent question today was another sign of how some Tory Eurosceptics are becoming more and more concerned about the terms of the transition, and how it will make Britain—in effect—a non-voting member of the EU. Jacob Rees-Mogg’s charge that it makes Britain a ‘vassal state’ has resonated with many of them. But given the inadequacy of the government’s preparations for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, there really is no alternative to a transition.
The prize that Eurosceptics should be keeping their eye on is Britain’s ability to regulate the industries of the future in their own way. As Matt Ridley argues in the Times this morning, the crucial thing is that Britain can regulate the industries that will define this century, such as artificial intelligence, in its own way. This is particularly important as Britain is a global leader in many of these fields and this is precisely where the EU’s precautionary principle will hold up progress the most.