The European Union is “open” to a two-year Brexit delay, chief negotiator Michel Barnier has confirmed.
In a letter to the Westminster leaders of the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Green Party and Alliance Party, Mr Barnier said the option of an extension to the Brexit transition period is available if the UK wants it.
But the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost told MPs the “firm policy” of the Government remains not to extend beyond the end of the year.
The leaders of these parties had written to Mr Barnier on May 15 calling for a two-year extension to be agreed between the UK and the EU amid a negotiation deadlock.
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford welcomed the letter and called on Boris Johnson to accept the offer to help protect the economy during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Brexit transition began when the UK legally left the EU on January 31 and is due to conclude at the end of the year.
Mr Frost told the Commons Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union on Wednesday: “That is the firm policy of the Government, that we will not extend the transition period and if asked we would not agree to it.”
In his letter, Mr Barnier said: “Such an extension of up to one or two years can be agreed jointly by the two parties.
“The European Union has always said that we remain open on this matter.