IT took just two minutes for the the 27 members of the European Union to agree terms for Britain’s Brexit transition period.

The speed with which the Europeans agreed the terms served to contrast the unity of the member states with the chaos of the UK Government, where there isn’t even unity within the Cabinet. The draft directives are to guide the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in the next stage of negotiations.

He has been instructed to make sure the UK agrees to stick to all the rules, while having no say at all between Brexit day and the end of the transition on December 31, 2020.

Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said: “EU ministers have given a clear mandate to the Commission on what is the type of transition period that we envisage: full EU acquis [the body of EU law] to be applied in the UK and no participation in the EU institutions and decision-making. The 27 adopted the text speedily today and we hope an agreement on this with the UK can also be closed swiftly.”

The EU position means the UK will have to remain within the customs union and single market, and accept freedom of movement.

Britain will also not be allowed to start new trade deals.

While we willl have no “institutional representation” in the EU, the UK may, in exceptional circumstances, be invited to attend some meetings as an observer.

Last Friday, Brexit Secretary David Davis demanded that the government in London have some influence over any new EU laws implemented during the transition.

“We will have to agree a way of resolving concerns if laws are deemed to run contrary to our interests and we have not had our say, and we will agree an appropriate process for this temporary period … it’s very, very important. If there are new laws that affect us, we have the means to resolve any issues during that period.” That is likely to prove highly contentious in Brussels.

He also told MPs last week that he expects the transition period to last between 21 and 27 months.

A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘’There is obviously going to be a negotiation on what the implementation period looks like.”