Jessica Fino 6 Nov 2017 02:50pm

May admits Brexit transition needed

Theresa May has acknowledged the need for a Brexit transition period but says that EU must first agree to it

The prime minister said that “a strictly time-limited implementation period” will “take time to finalise” but will be crucial to the UK’s success.

“First of all we need to get full agreement [from the EU] that this will happen and then negotiate the details.”

May told an audience of business leaders at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference that she has seen a positive response from EU leaders since her Florence speech. The leaders of the 27 EU nations have started having internal discussions about their position on the future relationship, she said.

"During this period our access to one another's markets should continue on current terms, and I want us to agree the detailed arrangements for this period as early as possible. But we should also be able to develop our relationship with countries outside the EU in new ways, including through our own trade negotiations,” she added.

But leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn, speaking at the same conference, called for an immediate transitional deal. He argued that delaying an agreement in a transitional deal until the final deal was agreed "is not good enough". Corbyn also said a “no deal” Brexit would be "a nightmare scenario", with tariffs on food and manufacturing exports.

During the CBI conference, OECD president Angel Gurría warned that Brexit has already hurt UK growth, shifting the country from the fastest growing economy to the slowest among the G7. When asked about the main reason for this change, Gurría blamed uncertainty.

He added that the EU and the UK want the best possible deal, but there are no "magical deadlines" and they should give it as much time as they need to reach a good deal. "It took 40 years to put the EU together, it should not take two years to get out,” he said.

Following the leak of the so-called “Paradise Papers” over the weekend, which revealed the secret overseas investments of the wealthy, May refused to commit to a public register of the ownership of offshore companies and trusts.

She said new measures were already creating more transparency.

Ford's vice president Steven Armstrong said that while the company does not want to leave the UK, it might need to if the country becomes less competitive after Brexit.