Coronavirus: "I wouldn't be surprised if Brexit was extended"

19 March 2020, 15:17 | Updated: 19 March 2020, 15:20

By Fiona Jones

Legal expert David Allen Green explained to James O'Brien why he thinks Brexit could be extended amid the pandemic - and the fractures this may bring within society.

The government has today announced the Emergency Coronavirus Bill detailing measures to contain the spread of Covid-19. The Bill will go to the Commons on Monday and it will pass quite soon after that, David Allen Green understands.

The emergency powers mean the government can halt cars, buses, trains and planes in a bid to limit social contact. The bill also gives police and immigrant officials powers to place people in "appropriate isolation facilities."

James O'Brien asked if this emergency bill could see Brexit "unfolding due to the current calendar."

"The default position is that the transition period is the end of this year but if there is not sufficient capacity to make sufficient progress by June which is the deadline for an extension, then it would be irresponsible not to seek an extension.

PM flanked by deputy chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser during the daily press conference
PM flanked by deputy chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser during the daily press conference. Picture: PA

"Not because anybody wants to stay in the transition period longer than necessary, the transition period is an unhappy system of limbo and it would be better if we do go on to something one way or the other, it would be a practical or technical question.

"I would not be surprised if there was an extension," Mr Allen said, "as we both know...it's a highly politicised area and any sense this is being abused by Remainers will have an equal and opposite pushback of those in favour of Brexit."

James surmised that what the Prime Minister needs to navigate is a way in which he does what probably needs to be done but succeeds in looking like he really didn't want to.

"I also think those in continued favour and a close membership should play their part and not be too gleeful when there is an extension," Mr Allen said, "it will have to be done on a technical practical basis."

David Allen Green also pointed out that the EU, or any other country, may not be in a position to negotiate a trade agreement.

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