UK very close to Brexit transition deal with EU: Minister

The UK is reportedly close to signing a Brexit transition deal with the EU. (file photo)
The UK is reportedly close to signing a Brexit transition deal with the EU. (file photo)

The UK’s Junior Brexit minister says his country is very close to signing an agreement with the European Union (EU) over Brexit’s transition period.

Robin Walker said on Monday that the UK will adhere to EU regulations for a limited period after it leaves the bloc exactly one year from now.

“We recognize how important it is to secure the deal on the implementation period as soon as possible. I want to stress that we are very close to a deal at this time,” Walker said in a speech at the Institute of Directors in London.

He expressed hope that the details of the agreement will be finalized during the EU summit from March 22 to 24.

A government spokesman also said British Prime Minister Theresa May expects the two sides to reach an agreement over the transition period.

May has previously said that any customs union deal with the EU would keep London from striking new trade deals with fast-growing economies like China and India.

However, she has been struggling to unite her cabinet and offer a clear path to the divorce. May is also facing a rebellion by a small group of pro-Europeans inside the ruling Conservative Party, while on the other side, over 60 Conservative lawmakers have called on her to quickly break from the EU, urging her to take a “hard Brexit” stance.

In Britain’s 2016 referendum, 52 percent, or 17.4 million people, voted to leave the EU while 48 percent, or 16 million, voted to stay.

May insists Britain will leave the EU as planned and there will be no rerun of the Brexit referendum.

A new study has found that Britain and the EU would face a combined cost of around £58 billion ($80.4 billion) if Brexit talks fail to yield a new trade agreement.

The report, published Sunday by consultancy firm Oliver Wyman and law firm Clifford Chance, said a “no deal” scenario would cost EU exporters by about £31 billion and UK exporters by around £27 billion.

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