There are many rational arguments in favour of an extension to the transition period.  There are also many prominent advocates from trade organisations for an extension who make powerful arguments to extend in order to prepare for a trade deal. However, Campaigners cannot assume that the logic of their position will ultimately prevail. 

Polling shows that two-thirds of the public support an extension including some Brexit supporters.  There is, however, serious opposition to an extension with powerful support in the media and in parliament, Brexiters Ji’an who do not want a deal at all, preferring World Trade Organisation terms.  They were backed in the official response to a parliamentary petition to extend which simply stated: “We will be recovering economic and political independence at the end of the year, which the British people voted for.”

  • conceptually Claire Foges in The Times warns against being stubborn about Brexit: “Paranoid Brexiteers will claim an extension is Remainer sabotage; the establishment trying to squash Brexit under the cover of the virus. But that fight is over. Brexit cannot be reversed.  Gravina in Puglia It is in all our interests, now more than ever, for this to be done well, ending in a comprehensive trade agreement with our closest neighbours. When you’re caught in a rainy day, seek out umbrellas, not other storms. Let sense prevail. Request the extension.”  This is no time to be stubborn about Brexit, Claire Foges, The Times, 11 May 2020
  • Professor Tim Bale argues that to ignore their arguments would be to risk repeating the mistake made by those backing Remain in the 2016 referendum.   “For those who believe that, in the light of Covid-19, the UK should ask for an extension to its transition out of the EU — pushing off the end of December deadline for a deal on the future relationship.  What are the arguments Brexiters are likely to deploy against them? Forewarned, they say, is forearmed”, wrote Professor Tim Bale A Brexit extension would face serious opposition even during coronavirus, UK in a Changing Europe, originally published in the Financial Times on 11 April 2020

Arguments likely to be invoked against an extension are:

    • Remainers can’t accept they’ve lost, it’s sabotage
    • An extension is another attempt by those opposed to Brexit/the establishment to try to block Brexit
    • There’s plenty of time to conduct negotiations with the EU by video conferencing
    • The Coronavirus will concentrate minds on both sides, whilst the EU is weakened by Covid-19
    • “Rip the dressing off the wound” to end damaging uncertainty
    • A cliff edge departure will be (apparently) less noticeable when the country is in economic shock
    • The newly created Centre for Brexit Policy has published an alarmist report claiming that a “Brexit delayed is Brexit denied” will cost “hundreds of billions of pounds” – somewhere between £158 billion and £1.5 trillion
    • The report suggests that a delay will risk staying permanently in the EU

Mike Galsworthy rebuts fake news:


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