Thank you for contacting me about our ongoing negotiations with the European Union.
Nothing would please me more than for the United Kingdom and the European Union to reach a final lasting deal which is to the mutual benefit of both parties to these talks.
I have had the privilege of meeting Michel Barnier a few times, and he was very helpful to our group of Members of Parliament who were working together to try to protect the existing rights of EU citizens in the UK.
I know that he and his team will drive a hard bargain and of course our side must do the same to get the best deal for the British people as well as for the many other non-citizens who make their home here.
An extension to the negotiations would only be in our interests if a full agreement is pretty much finalised but needs a little more time to work out the final details. This would require an extension of mere days – certainly not more than a few weeks at the very most.
Otherwise, it is vital for the success of the negotiations that we keep the threat of their failure ever present. If Monsieur Barnier believes we will extend negotiations for ever, I’m sure you will agree that he will have very little cause to agree to a deal on time. I think it was Dr Johnson who put it best when he says there is nothing that concentrates the mind like the prospect of a hanging.
Thank you again for taking the time to keep me informed of your views.
EDWARD LEIGH MP