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British PM hints at transitional Brexit deal with EU

world Updated: Nov 21, 2016 23:01 IST
PTI
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to address delegates at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in central London on Monday.
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to address delegates at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in central London on Monday.(AFP Photo)

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday sought to calm business nerves over Britain’s impending exit from the European Union by hinting at a possible transitional Brexit deal.

Speaking at a Confederation of British Industry CBI conference, May tried to reassure delegates that her government would avoid uncertainties after Article 50 is invoked to trigger the formal two-year period for negotiations with the 28-member economic bloc.

“People don’t want a cliff-edge; they want to know with some certainty how things are going to go. That will be part of the work that we do in terms of the negotiation that we are undertaking with the European Union,” she said.

“Obviously, as we look at the negotiation we want to get the arrangement that is going to work best for the UK and the arrangement that is going to work best for business in the UK. And I’m conscious that there will be issues that will need to be looked at,” she added.

Several business lobby groups in the UK have been pushing for an interim deal to let them trade in the same way post-Brexit.

Asked later to clarify May’s comment, her official Downing Street spokesperson said: “She was reflecting the views we have expressed already about how we secure the best deal for the UK and how we seek to provide certainty where we can to businesses and people across the UK of the steps moving forward.

“There are a whole range of issues that are being worked through as we prepare for the negotiations.”

The two-year negotiation period after Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered will be focused on the task of leaving the EU, with new trade arrangements unlikely to have been put in place.

There is a fear that with UK’s official exit from the 28-member economic bloc complete, UK businesses will be faced with unfavourable WTO terms.

The hope is that ministers will either extend the period before Britain officially exits, which would need the agreement of all the other 27 member states, or that a temporary deal will be agreed. PTI AK ABH