A Downing Street spokesperson on Thursday said that the U.K. would refuse any European Union request to extend the Brexit transition period. The prime minister's official spokesman said the U.K. needed "legislative and economic flexibility" to manage its response to the coronavirus pandemic and would not seek more time to secure a trade deal with the EU.
"We will not ask to extend the transition period, and if the EU asks we will say 'no.' Extending the transition would simply prolong the negotiations, prolong business uncertainty and delay the moment of control of our borders. It would also keep us bound by EU legislation at a point when we need legislative and economic flexibility to manage the U.K. response to the coronavirus pandemic," the U.K. spokesman said.
The comment comes after International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the U.K. and the EU should not "add to uncertainty" as a result of coronavirus by refusing to extend the period to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal.
The spokesman's words were echoed by the U.K.'s chief negotiator, David Frost. "Transition ends on 31 December this year. We will not ask to extend it. If the EU asks we will say no," he tweeted. "Extending would simply prolong negotiations, create even more uncertainty, leave us liable to pay more to the EU in future, and keep us bound by evolving EU laws at a time when we need to control our own affairs. In short, it is not in the UK's interest to extend."