The United Kingdom is asking for a second transition period that will run until 2023 in an attempt to avoid the much-feared hard border in Ireland post-Brexit.
Prime Minister Theresa May is set to propose a so-called customs and regulatory alignment implementation period, that will run from the end of the initial transition period on New Year’s Eve on 2020 until 2023, at least, to avoid the necessity for infrastructure or checks on the said border.
The announcement comes after revelations from Jon Thompson, the HMRC boss, last Thursday that the minimum amount of time that is required to implement one of the two official options for a future customs relationship would be around three years from the point of a decision, implying that there would be no way that the 2020 deadline could be met.
According to The Times, the second transition period that will be proposed is part of a wider strategy in which PM Theresa May will take on the Remain and Leave factions of her party in a significant Commons vote within weeks amidst the return of the EU Withdrawal Bill, after a series of defeats in the House of Lords.
Last April, it was revealed that Michael Gove and some other senior Brexiters were making their peace with the concept of a time-limited extension to the customs union as it became increasingly obvious that the government could not break the deadlock in time.
However, some have already made it clear that they are not happy with any prolonging of the said arrangement, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, the outspoken backbencher and leader of the European Research Group who this week, blamed the government for “abject weakness.”
Also, criticisms of the Tory infighting has already gone international, with the head of lobbyists Luxembourg for Finance saying: “If there is one thing that can derail this, it is the Conservative party.”