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Simon Usherwood @Usherwood
, 12 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Let's think about this idea of a second transition, beyond end of 2020, for a bit

Essentially, it seems HMG is floating this as a way to avoid having to finalise the new relationship within the (short) transition period from next March

Given the disarray over just the customs element - which is the least of it all - that's not so silly, especially if it also allows May to buy more time from her backbench (which probably needs some language about a harder final outcome)

However, some problems arise. Because these things always have problems

A big one is legal basis.

Art.50 has already been worked overtime on transition (which it doesn't provide for at all), hence the growing feeling that extending the format on that legal basis alone isn't viable.

Moreover, extending the Art.50 transition would mean a UK that does everything a member state does, except have representation in institutions.

So going beyond end 2020 would mean opening up a big #MFF problem that no one wants

So, another legal basis would be both prudent and politic.

That points to the provisions on third-state relations, where the options are much better understood.

The idea would presumably be to transpose the backstop language into a time- or condition-limited period (ie when they can get the new relationship sorted)

UK gets more space

EU avoids a cliff-edge

Job done


Problems. Of course.

The nature of the backstop means it'd be a mixed agt, so that means ratification by unanimity, inc those pesky sub-national parl'ts, so not quick or easy to do.

Plus you might be coming back to ratify the new relationship a couple of yrs later

Plus, it'd still be a novel agt, both in scope and duration, so simplification gains over the future relationship negotiations might be minimal.

And the big political problem for UK hard Brexiters is that they might locked in this second transition

Given that it's be stupid not to have a duration extension mechanism on this 2nd transition, and given it'd logically be linked to getting a new relationship, if the EU stalled the later, than no escape, short of unilateral abandonment of this text

In short, a 2nd transition looks cunning, but it's got plenty of problems (if anyone buys it in the 1st place)

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