Thank you for contacting me about leaving the EU without a trade agreement at the end of the transition period, and about science cooperation.
Following the European Council in October, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, acknowledged the need to work intensively, that movement in the negotiations is needed from ‘both sides if agreement is to be reached’ and that the EU is negotiating with a sovereign country. More recently, the EU has again criticised the UK for not moving sufficiently to overcome the main obstacles to a post-Brexit trade deal. The UK negotiating team is working with the EU to see if it is possible to bridge the remaining gaps in our positions, without compromising our sovereignty. The UK has made concessions, but the EU needs to show more flexibility and that it fully recognises the UK as an equal sovereign nation. Negotiations are taking place daily, if required, including at weekends, across all negotiating streams concurrently and on the basis of each side’s legal texts.
The UK was always due to leave the single market and customs union at the end of the year and so there is no change in this regard. Businesses would always have been required to prepare for this scenario. I would encourage you to visit the following website for the most up to date information: www.gov.uk/transition.
I want to be clear that the UK will leave the transition period at the end of the year with or without a further agreement and I am confident that we will prosper as an independent nation. We will have control over our borders, laws and fisheries and our economic and political independence will be restored.
Finally, I fully understand your strength of feeling over continued cooperation with the EU in science and technology. I have been clear about the importance of seeking to maintain a close relationship with European partners in a number of different areas including science, R&D and Horizon Europe. The exact nature of any participation in EU programmes remains a matter for the negotiations and as I am sure you can appreciate, I would not wish to pre-empt the outcome of discussions. If no agreement is forthcoming, the Government has explained that it would implement new alternatives to address funding shortfalls. A new Discovery Fund will offer significant grants to early, mid and late-career researchers and additional funding will be available to support UK researchers to participate in European schemes open to third countries.
Thank you again for contacting me.
Sally-Ann Hart MP