The Institute of Directors (IoD) urged Prime Minister Theresa May to extend the two-year negotiation period, arguing it is the “simplest solution” to save the UK from post-Brexit chaos.
The current deadline for the UK to negotiate a withdrawal deal with the EU is March 2019.
Although the IoD acknowledges it would be “politically contentious” for the already-weak government to make a U-turn on the issue, it said: “This is the simplest way of allowing sufficient time for full negotiations to include a comprehensive free trade agreement, and ensuring one single period of adjustment/implementation for business, negotiators and government machinery to grapple with.”
The IoD also called on the PM to push for the UK to stay in the single market during a transition period, and to remain under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and within the customs union.
The proposals were backed by one of the UK’s most prominent business figures, Sir Martin Sorrell, who told the Independent he would happily endorse them to avoid uncertainty.
The government has already insisted, however, that the European Court of Justice will cease to hold sway over UK affairs from the moment Brexit comes into effect.
EU negotiators are unlikely to concede an extension.
“We don’t know when Brexit talks start. We know when they must end,” EU Council President Donald Tusk tweeted on June 9.
Any extension of the deadline would have to be agreed unanimously by all EU member states.
The IoD report comes as the Bank of England (BoE) downgrades its forecast for the UK’s economic growth this year from 1.9 percent to 1.7.
During a press conference on Thursday, its chief, Mark Carney, said the BoE would be unable to prevent weaker wages following the UK’s withdrawal of the EU.
“Prioritizing interim arrangements and thereby mitigating the risks of EU exit means the eventual opportunities aren’t diminished by short-term chaotic cliff edges,” Allie Renison, head of EU and Trade Policy at the IoD, told the Independent.