I take that point. After a general election in the UK, if the Parliament ratifies the latest withdrawal agreement that has been agreed between the British Government and the EU then, in all likelihood, the UK will leave the European Union at the end of January. As part of that withdrawal agreement the political declaration sets a course for what the future relationship might look like, but the timescale for the negotiation of that says the transition period would end at the end of 2020 unless both sides agree on the back of the UK applying for an extension to that period by either one or two years. That request would have to be made by 1 July next year, which essentially only leaves five months in advance of that request. The British Prime Minister has said he will not seek an extension of time.
Personally, I think it will be very difficult to negotiate a future relationship in all of its complexity before the end of 2020, but it is possible. That is a matter for the two negotiating teams. For some time now the EU side has been preparing for that negotiation. Michel Barnier will effectively lead a task force on the future relationship negotiation, even though individual Commissioners and the Commission will also be involved in the negotiations across various sectors.
The answer to Deputy Lisa Chambers's question is that I think the timeline will be very tight. The end of 2020 was originally envisaged as a timeline that would have been a lot longer, before the extensions were granted in an effort to get a withdrawal agreement ratified and agreed. We are going to have to respond to these issues as they develop and, as ever, Brexit will not be easy and the European Union will have to make difficult choices, depending on the approach of the UK side. The future relationship negotiations will be difficult because the target is tariff-free, barrier-free and quota-free trade.
If that is to be the case, then level playing field issues will have to be negotiated across multiple sectors, which will take time.