Brexit has not gone away, even though Covid-19 seems determined to chase it down the track and out of the public eye!

On 7 April 2020, the House of Lords Library published an interesting two-part article, entitled "Coronavirus: What does it mean for the Brexit transition period?"  

Part 1 of the article focuses on how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting negotiations on the future UK-EU economic relationship and the implementation of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement. Unsurprisingly, the article highlights a growing body of opinion and comment from both within the UK and the EU that favours deferring the end of the transition period from 31 December 2020 by up to two years. The basic inconvenience of trying to conduct complex discussions online  rather than face to face is highlighted as but one reason why this extension of the transition period might be considered necessary. So far, however, the UK Government has been standing firm in not wanting to extend the transition period.

Part 2 of the article focuses on more substantive issues - namely, how the UK is being affected during the transition period by the EU's response to Covid-19, what is happening to the UK's plan to negotiate to new trade deals with non-EU countries (including the US) and what the role of the UK Parliament is in all this.

It must be very difficult for any Government, including the present UK Government, to know what to do in the current challenging combination of circumstances, when it understandably has to prioritise its resources towards fighting this cruel pandemic. However, the implication that can be drawn from the article is that the UK should not allow itself to be boxed into a corner on purely ideological grounds and to revert instead to its usual more knowing pragmatic but principled approach for which the UK is more naturally famous.

The House of Lords and Commons Libraries have played a very valuable role over the whole Brexit period since the 2016 referendum in analysing tends and issues which are relevant to the Brexit debate and this is likely to continue.

This may be regarded as thought leadership at its best!