Downing Street’s refusal to extend the Brexit transition period is partly based on a concern that the EU will demand “massive” payments to help deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, The Telegraph has been told.
A source close to the negotiations said that paying into an increased EU budget was “clearly not in the national interest”, adding: “We need to spend money on our own needs in our own way.”
No 10 has been facing growing calls to seek an extension to the current transition period, which is due to end on December 31, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the focus in the UK and EU on responding to the outbreak.
But on Thursday No 10 said it would not request an extension, and would “simply say no” if asked by the EU. David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, later said that extending would “prolong negotiations, create even more uncertainty” and “leave us liable to pay more to the EU in future”.
The EU is due to agree a new seven-year budget for the period from 2021 to 2027. Last week Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said the budget needs to “be completely different than how normally European budgets work”, including by paying out more grants in the first few years of the seven-year cycle.
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