Our Christmas present in 2020? Permanent continued membership of the EU, predicts AC Grayling

PUBLISHED: 11:21 20 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:48 20 March 2018

AC Grayling speaking at the 'Should I Stay or Should I Go?' Brexit conference in central London

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David Davis' Brexit transition deal with the EU will lead to a "great Christmas present" in 2020 of permanent continued membership, AC Grayling has said.

The philosopher told a conference in central London yesterday that the transition period gave anti-Brexit campaigners time to stop and reverse the process, saying he was "pretty confident" Britain would stay in the Union.

And he predicted Britain would actually become "more fully" members, with Brits travelling to the continent without needing a passport.

Prof Grayling took to the stage at the 'Should I Stay or Should I Go?" conference at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre shortly after news broke that a transition period giving full rights to EU citizens moving to the country during that time had been agreed.

He joked Brexit secretary Mr Davis had "been reminded of the route from here to Brussels and managed to get there for the first time since November of last year".

He told the conference, for EU citizens living in the UK: "What has happened, what we've seen announced today, is that March '19, March 2019, has been turned into December 2020. That is the one thing which has happened in the negotiation.

"There has been this so-called transition period, which means that the cliff-edge has been pushed back to Christmas time 2020.

"I'm pretty confident as a result of this fact that the great Christmas present we're all going to get in 2020 is permanent continued membership of the EU.

"Because stretch out the amount of time that we've all got to work against this thing, to campaign against it, to get a vote on whether we want to continue with this, to update the country's attitude to its relationship with Europe - give us more time to do that and we've got a greater chance of stopping it."

Prof Grayling told delegates that one of two things would "inevitably" happen - that Brexit would be stopped or eventually reversed.

"The worst case scenario is there will be a very temporary period of time in which we are half in the EU or apparently vaguely trembling off the brink on the outside," he said.

"But over the next couple of years, maybe the next two, three, five years, we will see this process reversed, if it gets that far. Pure demographics tells us so.

"You only have to look at the fact that well over three quarters of the 18-25-year-old population of this country were emphatically pro-EU and they are going to be the ones in the driving seat when it comes to voting on these matters in coming general elections.

"The idea that the UK's future belongs in the EU is an idea that is never going to die. And that is why the worst case scenario is that we're going to have a pretty rocky time for a little while because of the stupidity of this process, but we will be back in the EU."

He went even further, predicting that Britain would actually integrate further into the Union and appeared to suggest a future government could sign up to the Schengen passport-free agreement.

He said: "When we are fully and confidently and completely in the EU with this dreadful episode in our history behind us, it will be as fully members of the EU, more fully than we are now.

"We will be able to go on the Eurostar without having to take a passport. This is a prediction that I make, I intend to stay alive until I can do it."

Referring to the name of the conference, taking its title from a song by The Clash, Prof Grayling told those attending, who were overwhelmingly non-British EU citizens: "The answer to your question is stay. Stay, help this process to work out."

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