What is the difference between a transition and an implementation period? This has become an almost theological debate to rival the medieval scholars’ alleged concern over how many angels could sit on a pin head. The fear is that transition means not really leaving the European Union and that the unreconciled Remainers use the term in the hope that the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union can be so muddled as never really to happen. There are certainly some figures who take this view, mainly people who have retired from frontline politics or those in the Labour Party whose seats voted most decisively not to leave the EU but these seem to be in a minority with most, including the Labour leadership, having accepted the result.
Implementation ought to mean what is currently happening, laws being presented to Parliament and debated which ensure there is no legal uncertainty and that the status of EU Member State nationals living the in the UK on the day we leave is clear. This is the detailed implementation of the decision taken at the Referendum by the British people and passed into law by the Article 50 Act. Some of this will continue after we have left as rules will change and administrative alterations will be needed. Some will be minor, such as the immigration lanes through which people enter the Country, there will be no special line for the EU but airports will need to reconfigure their arrival halls, and there will be major ones such as the ability to sign trade deals.
Transition potentially implies that when we leave we will only be partly out and that the full departure will come when the beautiful British butterfly finally spreads her wings and emerges from the chrysalis stage. That leaves the risk that we will never emerge, so although the dispute may seem theological it is more important than it initially looks.