While the UK left the bloc in January, it has remained bound by EU rules up until now and will do so until December 31 this year. This is because the country is currently in a transition period, designed to keep the UK in the customs union and single market until the agreement for a future trading relationship is ratified. However, some in Parliament have argued the transition period should be extended as the coronavirus pandemic has soaked up valuable time and attention, as well as reaping economic damage. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has turned down this idea – and one of his party backers , Andrew Bridgen, believes an extension to the transition is entirely unnecessary.
The Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire told Express.co.uk: “Ultimately what the EU’s demands are, given we are now a sovereign nation, accepting EU regulations, rights to fishing grounds and the European Court of Justice to rule over the agreement of our future relationship.
“They are not demands that any independent country that hasn’t lost a war would agree to.”
Mr Bridgen also argued that the demands were “unreasonable”.
On the transition period, he added: “There was never any point to extending the transition period.
“Extending the time was never going to break the deadlock – the EU would have never changed their position.”
In addition to this, the Tory Brexiter also blamed Brussels’ “bureaucracy” for the lack of progress between Mr Frost and Mr Barnier.
Mr Bridgen said: “One of the reasons [for the impasse] is the bureaucracy of the EU.
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“They’ve got to get 27 heads of states to agree to a negotiating position, whereas David Frost can speak to Boris and Boris can make a decision.
“Barnier has to speak to the Commission, and then the Commission has got to get the approval of 27 heads of states.”
The Tory MP also claimed that former Prime Minister Theresa May’s lacklustre approach to negotiations is still hurting Britain’s negotiating power, despite having stepped down just under a year ago.
He points to the number of extensions previously undertaken by Downing Street.
Mr Bridgen said: “The fact is the EU has been spoiled during the negotiations for the withdrawal agreement by Theresa May.
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“We extended and extended, but what did that get us? Nothing.
“You can understand why the EU, thinking every time they’ve given us a deadline we’ve extended under Theresa May, you can’t blame them for trying with Johnson.”
The first extension was granted on March 21, 2019. The UK and the EU agreed to extend Article 50 until either May 22, subject to MPs approving the Withdrawal Agreement, or failing that until April 12.
After MPs rejected the deal for the third time, Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to President of the European Council Donald Tusk requesting a second extension until June 30, 2019.
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The EU27 agreed two options – an extension until June 1 if the UK failed to hold European Parliament elections – or an extension to October 31 if it did.
Then it was Boris Johnson’s turn to secure an extension to the withdrawal deadline.
On October 19, 2019, the Government tried to hold a meaningful vote on the deal Boris Johnson renegotiated with the EU.
However, MPs passed an amendment from Oliver Letwin which made clear that MPs would withhold their approval of the Withdrawal Agreement until its bill had been passed.
As a result, the Prime Minister wrote to Donald Tusk requesting an extension until January 31, 2020.