MICHAEL Gove will tomorrow appear before MSPs to defend his government’s decision not to seek an extension to the current EU/UK transition period despite fears a No Deal Brexit will hamper attempts to rebuild the economy after the cornonavirus pandemic.
Under the current arrangement the UK remains in the European single market and customs union until the end of this year, meaning goods and people can move freely between the two blocs. However, Johnson has insisted he will not seek an extension meaning that if no agreement is reached, tariffs would be imposed on exported and imported goods under WTO rules. The deadline for an extension request is July 1.
In a letter to the convener of the Europe committee Joan McAlpine before his appearance tomorrow, Gove restated the UK Government’s position not to seek an extension.
“We remain fully committed to the negotiations and reaching an agreement before the end of the year. The transition period ends on December 31, 2020, as enshrined in UK law, which the Prime Minister has made clear he has no intention of changing,” wrote Gove.
The Conservative Cabinet minister will also be quizzed by MSPs on preparations for a No Deal Brexit and what EU programmes the UK may continue to seek to sign up.
On the latter point, Gove told McAlpine the UK Government is considering taking part in research and education programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+.
“In relation to your specific point on EU programmes, we are considering participation in the next generation of these, including Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+, which are due to begin in 2021 and are currently under negotiation,” he wrote.
Earlier this month First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged the UK Government to “think again” on previous refusals to extend the transition period.
She said: “If you take the Scottish Government, we are, as I think absolutely everybody would expect, focused on dealing with the coronavirus crisis. But if there is no extension request we are going to have divert resources from that to thinking about and starting to prepare for the consequences again of a No-Deal Brexit … Does anybody seriously think right now that that is a sensible thing to be doing? I don’t and I hope the UK Government comes to its senses.”