Britain confirms it will not seek Brexit extension with EU

Britain has budged on Brexit - and not for the better. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Britain has budged on Brexit - and not for the better. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Cabinet minister Michael Gove has officially locked the UK out of any Brexit extension during a meeting with EU officials.

Gove told a gathering of the EU Joint Committee via videolink that the UK had no intention of prolonging the transition period.

The meeting was the last formal chance to request an extension before the July 1 deadline.

Tweeting the news today, Gove said he had given EU negotiators 'official notice' to end negotiations after December 31.

'I formally confirmed the UK will not extend the transition period & the moment for extension has now passed. On 1 January 2021 we will take back control and regain our political & economic independence,' he posted on his Twitter account.

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Both sides will now attempt to accelerate trade talks. Brussels diplomat Maros Sefcovic, who was in the meeting with Gove, said: 'Chancellor Gove was very clear, unequivocal on the fact that the UK is not going to seek the extension and because this was the last Joint Committee before the deadlines expire - so we take this decision as a definitive one.'

He added: 'We are pleading for acceleration of work on all fronts so we can really arrive at January 1 with all the things that have to be done to be executed and done properly.'

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Despite the announcement, both sides can still agree to hold another gathering, where under the Withdrawal Agreement a delay could be asked for.

Responding to the news, Stephen Dorrell, chair of the pro-EU group European Movement, said: 'In choosing not to extend the transition period, the government is choosing to put ideology before country.

'Just this morning, it was announced that Britain's GDP shrank by 20.4% in April - the largest monthly drop on record. At a time when we are facing the biggest public health crisis in over a century and coronavirus is already wreaking havoc on our economy, now is not the time for the government to recklessly flirt with a no-deal Brexit that will further endanger people's livelihoods.'

The move comes as the first ministers of Wales and Scotland pleaded with Boris Johnson to prolong talks in letter on Friday.

The government has consistently ruled out any extension. It has also abandoned plans to introduce full EU border checks from January 1.

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