Just as London appears to be coming round to the idea that it will need a temporary transitional agreement with Brussels to smooth its exit from the European Union, it may find the position of European leaders has hardened.
For months the working assumption in Brussels has been that it would be impossible to manage Britain’s exit from the EU by a 2019 deadline without a temporary transitional deal to govern trade terms until a final arrangement can be hammered out.
The idea is favoured by businesses on both sides of the channel who want to minimise uncertainty, and by the technocrats tasked with hammering out a deal, who say a final pact cannot be reached in time. The only people who didn’t seem to like it were hardliners in London who said they preferred a clean break.
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