UK wants full access to EU single market for two years after Brexit

Chancellor says he wants ‘off-the-shelf’ transition deal that avoids cliff edge

UK chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond has told business leaders he wants companies to have full access to the single market and customs union for two years after Brexit, followed by a further implementation phase.

Mr Hammond said he wants a simple "off-the-shelf" transition deal with the European Union that will maintain current trading relations with Brussels for two years. He then wants a further implementation phase to be in place while Britain negotiates a new trade deal.

He said the transition to Britain fully establishing its new relationship with the EU must be complete by the time of the next scheduled parliamentary election in 2022.

“People have talked about a year, two years, maybe three years,” he said in a BBC radio interview. “I think there’s a broad consensus that this process has to be completed by the scheduled time of the next general election, which is in June 2022.”


Mr Hammond said he wanted to avoid a cliff-edge where goods and people stopped being able to move across British borders when it leaves the EU in March 2019.

EU nationals would continue to be able to work in Britain immediately after Britain left the EU, and changes to rules affecting Britain’s relations with the EU could be phased in gradually over the transition period, he added.

Mr Hammond said on the first day after leaving the bloc in March 2019 “many things will look similar”.

“There will be a process between the date we leave the European Union and the date on which the new treaty-based arrangements between the UK and the European Union which we hope and expect to negotiate come into force.

“I can’t tell you a precise period of time because we haven’t had that discussion yet, it will be driven by technical considerations – how long it will take us to put the necessary arrangements in place.”– (Agencies)