Brexiteers claim that “Remainers” in government are pushing for a one-year extension to the Brexit transition period, as the clock runs down in talks to secure a deal.
The European Union has placed a “seven-day deadline” on talks ahead of an EU summit, with both sides reportedly discussing a “grace period” for Northern Ireland businesses as a period of “temporary adjustment” to avoid problems.
But Leavers also claim the on-going coronavirus pandemic could lead to a longer transition period beyond the December 31 expiry date.
Sam Coates at Sky News reports: “Without Vote Leave crew to push back, their argument goes, there won’t be a clean break on Dec 31.”
But Coates points out that there is “no way” Johnson “would countenance an actual formal extension to Brexit” – even if such a proposal was legally possible.
And a government source has claimed: “I’ve never seen so much as a flicker …that extension could be made”.
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But the argument is being used to try to apply pressure on Johnson to avoid a complete clear out of Vote Leave officials from Downing Street.
Twitter users reacted with scepticism about the claims, particularly as Johnson appeared to have filled his government with those supportive of the Brexit cause.
“Literally what Remainers?” asked @HazzaR1997. “They were all pushed out? You can’t blame people who voted remain for everything.”
“Laying the mitigating groundwork for their colossal mistake and pretending it’s not their idea?” pondered another.
Ian Dunt tweeted: “Self-serving nonsense. The deadline on extending transition was months ago. But it shows how desperately they’ll raise the made-up Remainer threat to pursue their own agenda.”
Jessica Simor commented: “Anybody who cared about people would have agreed an extension in June – we’re in a once a century pandemic FGS [for god’s sake]. They are a bunch of paranoiacs who are constitutionally incapable of acting responsibly.”
Jo Reggelt added: “Clearly we all didn’t ‘believe in Brexit’ hard enough.”
Jon Worth said: “Were the deadline not 5 weeks away, this would be funny. As it is it’s tragic.”