An extension of the transition period is not just irresponsible, it is downright dangerous to our nation's economy, argues Graham Stringer MP

Keir Starmer made it crystal clear that the Labour Party is not in favour of extending the Brexit transition period.

Keir told LBC Radio "I would seek to ensure that the negotiations were completed as quickly as possible. I've not called for a pause because the government says its going to get it done by the end of the year".

A new report by the Centre for Brexit Policy (CBP), which warns that extending the transition period could cost the UK at least £380 billion and scupper the nation's Coronavirus recovery plan, shows that the Labour Leader was absolutely right to commit to the December 31st deadline.

The report, launched on Sunday by the cross-party CBP, sets out the economic Armageddon the UK would face if the transition period is extended beyond the end of this year.

Britain would continue to contribute £11 billion a year net to the EU budget, lose lucrative free trade agreements from outside of the EU, lose the economic benefits of better UK controlled business regulation and better controlled unskilled migration.

More worryingly, the UK could be liable for bailing out a bankrupt Eurozone and there would be further monetary requests from the new EU budget cycle that starts on January 1st 2021.

The report calculates that if Brexit were delayed for two years then implemented in full, this would cost £380 billion. However, if delay led to Brexit not happening the cost would rocket up to £4.6 trillion.

Both the Government and the Opposition have now ruled out seeking an extension to the transition and this is the right thing to do for the economy and it is popular with the British people.

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There have been calls to extend the transition by the anti-Brexit Best for Britain campaign which believes that it is unreasonable to think Ministers can strike a good deal for the UK by the end of the year. "The public would clearly support the Government requesting an extension so it can focus solely on fighting the virus and restoring our economy without the risk of a catastrophic no deal" they claim.

But a new poll in the report, carried out by Savanta ComRes, completely dismantles this argument.

Nearly half the people polled (45 per cent) agreed that the government was capable of managing both the Coronavirus pandemic and the transition period at the same time, with just 24 per cent disagreeing.

Asked if the transition period should remain as currently arranged, ending 31 December 2020, 35 per cent of voters agreed; an additional 8 per cent wanted the transition period shortened, making a total of 44 per cent of the electorate in favour of either the status quo or a quicker exit (it totals 44 per cent because of rounding up). They outnumbered the 40 per cent who wanted the transition period extended into 2021 or beyond.

The survey, also found that the public are deeply cynical about the EU's motives. Asked if extending the transition will lead to further extensions, 46 per cent agreed and only 16 per cent disagreed.

It is clear that four years after the referendum, British people do indeed want to get Brexit done and are feeling positive about life outside of the EU, with 45 per cent agreeing that the UK would be better off in the long run outside of the EU and 28 per cent disagreeing.

Keir's commitment to the December 31st 2020 deadline is the right thing to do and is in line with the mood of the nation.

Labour Party strategists should also look carefully at the regional results of the polling ? particularly the regions which roughly correlate to the Red Wall seats (North West, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside, Wales, West Midlands, East Midlands, South West) lost by Labour in the December 2019 election. These result in a 48 per cent to 34 per cent majority against extension. It is vital that the Labour Party re-engages with these voters and Keir's rejection of an extension to the transition period is an important step in that direction.

As is clear from this new report, an extension of the transition period is not just irresponsible, it is downright dangerous to our nation's economy. We have waited four years already and it is clear that the British people want Brexit to happen by the end of this year. The country needs to stop treading water and start taking advantage of the economic benefits as soon as possible.

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