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EU accepts UK's confirmation that it won’t seek extension to Brexit transition period

It comes despite the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales pushing for an extension past the new year.

Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

THE UK GOVERNMENT has announced that it has officially told the European Union that it would not seek an extension to the post-Brexit transition period beyond 31 December.

“I formally confirmed the UK will not extend the transition period & the moment for extension has now passed,” senior minister Michael Gove tweeted after a meeting with EU leaders today.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that the union has always been open to an extension of the transition period and today it took note of the UK’s decision not to avail of the option.

“We must now make progress on substance. To give every chance to the negotiations, we agreed to intensify talks in the next weeks and months,” Barnier wrote on Twitter.

It comes despite the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales writing to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson today to request an extension to the period.

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Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford said that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to end the transition in the new year because of the enormous economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“No-one could reproach the UK Government for changing its position in the light of the wholly unforeseeable Covid-19 crisis, particularly as the EU has made it clear it is open to an extension request,” they wrote.

“We therefore call on you to take the final opportunity the next few weeks provide to ask for an extension to the transition period in order to provide a breathing space to complete the negotiations, to implement the outcome, and the opportunity for our businesses to find their feet after the enormous disruption of recent months,” the letter added.

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Ceimin Burke

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