Wednesday’s Brexit summit in Brussels ended with no tangible results offered by either the European Union or Great Britain. In fact, there was more than a hint of disappointment in the chamber when British Prime Minister Theresa May arrived with no new proposals. The only thing May offered were hints that Britain might extend the post-Brexit transition phase beyond the proposed 21 months in order to hammer out the details of a future trade relationship between the UK and EU that is amicable to both parties. In other words, London, and Brussels will require more time to make the impending divorce as friendly as possible.
Expectations had been high in the days leading up to the summit. Some observers even framed it as a ‘make or break’ moment for a Brexit deal. Instead, negotiations will continue on with no clear timeline for when it will be time to draft a deal. The transition phase is set to run from March, 2019 until December, 2020. During this period, the UK will continue to honor the rules of the single market, and customs union. It could be extended through the end of 2021 if necessary.
May is likely to deal with some backlash from her party if the transition phase is extended. To many Tory MPs, an extension would be akin to allowing Great Britain to remain in limbo until 2022. In exchange for an extension, Britain would receive nothing in return from the EU. The longer England remains tied to the European Union, the bleaker May’s political fortunes will become.