Boris Johnson will make it illegal to extend the Brexit transition period beyond December 2020 as he ramps up the pressure for trade talks with the EU.
The PM will amend the provision in the Withdrawal Agreement when he brings it back to the Commons for the crucial vote on Friday.
Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal will end EU membership on January 31, triggering an 11-month ‘implementation period’ whereby EU rules will still apply here but the UK will have no role in making decisions.
The Withdrawal agreement states that the transition period – due to end in December 2020 – can be prolonged by up to two years if both sides agree.
But senior No10 sources have said that the PM will use his new 80 seat Majority to enshrine in law that any extension will be outlawed. It means Britain will definitely be free of EU rules by January 2021.
The move is designed to call the EU’s bluff ahead of the start of negotiations over Britain’s future trading relationship with Brussels.
It means Mr Johnson could not prolong trade negotiations even if he wanted to and stops Brussels winding down the clock on trade negotiations to force Britain into accepting an extension.
Last night a Downing Street source said: “The WAB will legally prohibit the Government from agreeing to any extension. Promises will be made, promises will be kept.”
Downing Street said: “The Prime Minister has said he will be aiming for a Canada-style free trade agreement with no political alignment. The PM has set out the importance of our right to set out our own rules, like the rest of the world does.
Mr Johnson has vowed to strike a Free Trade Agreement with the EU within just 11-months despite EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier warning the timeframe wasn’t long enough.
Making it illegal to extend the transition period increases the risk of UK/EU trade reverting to basic World Trade Organisation rules. So britain could still end up leaving with no deal at the end of December 2020 if a trade deal isn’t agreed within that timeframe.