The Staggers 21 July 2017 Will Britain end up agreeing a lengthy transition deal with the EU? It's those seeking to prevent a referendum re-run who have the most to fear from a bungled exit. Photo: Getty Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up You can check out, but you'll never leave? Today's papers all cover the growing momentum behind a transition arrangement after Britain leaves the European Union, whereby the United Kingdom remains in the single market and customs union. The FT reports on the first meeting between Theresa May and her new “business council”, in which business leaders had one big message for the PM: no-one wants a “no deal” Brexit – and Confederation of British Industry director Carolyn Fairbairn repeated her call for a lengthy transition arrangement. The Times splashes on government plans drawn up by Philip Hammond that include a two-year transition arrangement and private remarks by David Prior, a junior minister, that Britain was headed for “the softest of soft Brexits”. A cabinet source tells the Guardian that the transition will last even longer than that – a four-year period in which the United Kingdom remains in the single market. Broadly, the argument at the cabinet table for a transition deal has been won, with the lingering issue the question of how long a transition would run for. The fear among Brexiteers, of course, is that a temporary arrangement would become permanent. Their long-term difficulty is Remainers' present problem: that no one is changing their minds on whether or not Brexit is a good idea. Put crudely, every year the passing of time winnows away at that Leave lead. When you add the surprise and anger in this morning's papers over what ought to be a routine fact of Brexit – that when the UK is no longer subject to the free movement of people, our own rights of free movement will end – the longer the transition, the better the chances that if parliament's Remainers can force a re-run on whether we really want to go through with this, that Britain will stay in the EU. A quick two-year transition means coming out of the bloc in 2022, however, just when this parliament is due to end. Any dislocation at that point surely boosts Jeremy Corbyn's chances of getting into Downing Street, so that option won't work for the government either. There's another factor in all this: a transition deal isn't simply a question of the British government deciding it wants one. It also hinges on progress in the Brexit talks. Politico has a helpful run-down of the progress, or lack thereof, so far – and basically, the worse they go, the less control the United Kingdom has over the shape of the final deal. But paradoxically, it's those seeking to prevent a referendum re-run who have the most to fear from a bungled exit. The more time is wasted, the more likely that the UK ends up having to agree to a prolonged transition, with the timing of a full-blown trade deal at the EU's convenience. And the longer the transition, the better the chances for Remainers of winning a replay. › Murder by numbers: the legacy of the Grenfell Tower fire Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics. Subscribe For more great writing from our award-winning journalists subscribe for just £1 per month!