Clark told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday that the transition period could extend until the end of 2022, giving the UK two more years to negotiate a relationship.
“Businesses, especially small businesses, have said very clearly that they would much prefer to have one change, rather than have to change things twice, to two different regimes,” said Clark on Monday.
“It would be at our request, and that would be a maximum period. But it would be for this purpose – if the negotiations are making good progress but haven’t quite been finalised, to have the option – and it would be an option for us, and there is value in having an option – in rather than going in for a temporary period into the backstop and having a second change, to have the option, if the UK wanted, to extend the transition period,” he added.
The business secretary did not rule out an extension and said: “The point is that if we have the option we don’t have to use it. Our strong preference is clearly to complete the negotiations.”
Currently, the plan remains the same and the UK is still on track to leave the EU on 20 March 2019.
Prime Minister Theresa May will go to Brussels this week, whilst hoping to garner support for the deal from her own party who hope to remove her this week.
Last week saw the appointment of a new Brexit Secretary after Dominic Raab resigned on Friday. Stephen Barclay said he was “delighted to accept” the role.
“We now need to keep up the momentum to finalise the withdrawal agreement and outline political declaration and deliver a Brexit that works for the whole UK,” said the former minister of state in the health and social care department.
“Looking forward to working with a talented team of ministers and officials to do just that.”