Philip Hammond has said any transition deal struck with the European Union to ease the United Kingdom into Brexit will end by 2022.
Britain will officially leave the EU in March 2019. But the chancellor told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme this morning that “many things will look similar” the day after Brexit.
He said a “transition period when we would hope to have continued access to the European market” could be in place for two or three years.
“There will be a process between the date we leave the European Union and the date on which the new treaty-based arrangements between the UK and the European Union which we hope and expect to negotiate come into force,” he said,
“I think there is a broad consensus that this process has to be completed by the scheduled time of the next general election, which is in June 2022, so a period of at the most three years in order to put these new arrangements in place and move us on a steady path without cliff edges from where we are today to the new long-term relationship with the European Union.”
Last weekend Brexit cabinet ministers including Michael Gove came around to the idea of the need for a transition agreement.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd yesterday pledged there would be “no cliff-edge” on freedom of movement after Brexit, as she outlined an “implementation” period where EU nationals could register to come and work in the UK.
Hammond’s comments come as Diane Abbott said Labour is not taking any options for Brexit off the table, in the latest attempt to clarify the party’s position.
Abbott said Labour was open to any means that retained the benefits of the European single market and customs union, echoing comments from John McDonnell and Sir Keir Starmer.
It comes after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ruled out remaining in the single market and shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner said it would be a “disaster” to stay in the customs union.
“The Labour Party made it very clear in its manifesto that it wants a Brexit that puts jobs and the economy first and we are not at this stage taking any options off the table,” Ms Abbott told BBC Two’s Newsnight.
“We believe in looking at where we want to go, and what we want from these negotiations when we’re conducting them is to have the benefits of being in the single market and customs union. We’re about looking at ends, not structures.”