London Mayor urges Gove to extend Brexit transition

Sadiq Khan has written to Michael Gove calling for an extension to the Brexit transition period.

The mayor of London urged Mr Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, to “put political ideology aside” and seek an extension to the negotiations to avoid more potential damage to the economy.

“The last thing the country needs as it tries to find a way back from the devastation wreaked by coronavirus is more chaos and uncertainty,” the Labour politician wrote.

Coronavirus is the biggest health, social and economic emergency the world has faced since the second world war, he wrote. “Further disruption, in the form of tariffs, red tape and new immigration rules when we leave the single market and customs union at the end of the year, would be needless and hazardous,” he argued.

Mr Khan sent his letter as London and Brussels prepare for the fourth round of Brexit negotiations this week amid an impasse in the talks over issues including fisheries rights. The deadline for agreeing a further extension to the transition period is the end of this month.

London was one of the few regions of the UK to vote heavily for Remain in the 2016 EU referendum.

The intervention by the London mayor is a contrast to Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, who recently rejected calls for the transition period to be extended.

Sir Keir said last month that he would rather “the negotiations were completed as quickly as possible”. Most of Labour’s losses in its December general election defeat were in Leave areas where many voters were angry about the delay to Brexit.

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