Published On: Sun, May 10th, 2020

Brexit news: Arlene Foster rejects extension talks – ‘We should NOT be distracted’ | UK | News

Arlene Foster insisted the British Government should not be “distracted” by talks of extending the transition period and work of providing businesses in Northern Ireland with clarity about the future. The transition period is due to end on December 31 but the coronavirus pandemic sparked doubts on whether a new trade agreement between the UK and the EU can be reached before the deadline. But Ms Foster dismissed the suggestion, insisting her Government has been working hard to ensure there is no issue on the border with the Republic, even in the event of a no deal scenario.

Speaking to Sky News, Ms Foster said: “At the moment we’re talking to the Government about Brexit.

“We have a very particular issue around the Ireland-Northern Ireland protocol.

“I have to say, we have been engaging very much with the Paymaster General and with Michael Gove recently around that issue.

“It is important that we get clarity for our businesses in Northern Ireland, and I think that’s the key issue.”

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Ms Foster continued: “We shouldn’t be distracted by talks of lengthening the transition or anything like that.

“What we need to make sure is that we focus and that we get clarity for our businesses in Northern Ireland.”

Prime Minister has so far rejected any proposal to postpone the end of the transition, reiterating his commitment to ending the second phase of Brexit talks on time.

Brexit talks resumed later last month after the coronavirus outbreak disrupted the negotiations, forcing EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his counterpart David Frost to hold all discussions virtually.

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Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab insisted striking a free trade deal would help the UK and the EU to “bounce back” after coronavirus.

Asked why the Government was sticking to the end-of-year-deadline, he said: “I think the right thing to do for the UK, but also for the EU, is to avoid any future uncertainty beyond the end of this year by agreeing on what ought to be a reasonably straightforward approach in negotiating.

“That will be the surest way to make sure we can give our economies a boost by maintaining seamless and as frictionless trade as possible.

“And that is the way the UK and European countries have an opportunity to bounce back after this.

“I think prolonging the uncertainty of the Brexit negotiation is unnecessary and would actually make that uncertainty worse.”

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