Brussels: As Prime Minister Theresa May is gripped by political turmoil in the UK, Brexit negotiators have some unfinished business in Brussels. Curiously, the 107,000-word draft Brexit deal had one gap left in it when it was published this week. The maximum extension of the UK’s post-Brexit transition period appeared in the text as “up to 31 December 20XX".

Officials on both sides say they have only until the planned summit of EU leaders on 25 November to replace the blanks with a specific year.

The issue is divisive in the UK because pro-Brexit lawmakers consider the transition period leaves Britain a “vassal state". The UK will stick to EU rules as if it were still a member but loses any say in decision-making.

Initially the plan was for the transition to last from the moment the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 until 31 December 2020. But the British government asked for the possibility of that being extended in case the final trade deal isn’t ready in time.

The draft Brexit deal allows for one extension of the transition period beyond 2020 as long as it’s agreed by both the UK and EU and decided on before July that year.

There’s no agreement on the maximum length yet.

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