Chancellor Philip Hammond has said any “transitional deal” in the immediate period after Brexit must end by the time of the next general election.
He said there must be “business as usual, life as normal” for Britons as the UK exits the EU.
“Many things would look similar” the day after Brexit – on 29 March 2019 – as the UK moved gradually towards a new relationship with the EU, he said.
But he added the transition must end by June 2022, before the next election.
The UK is due to leave the EU at the end of March 2019, but there has been increasing talk of a “transitional” (or “implementation”) stage of around two years to smooth the Brexit process.
Mr Hammond, who has been calling for Brexit talks to prioritise the economy, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There will be a process between the date we leave the European Union and the date on which the new treaty-based arrangements between the UK and the European Union which we hope and expect to negotiate come into force.
“I can’t tell you a precise period of time because we haven’t had that discussion yet, it will be driven by technical considerations – how long it will take us to put the necessary arrangements in place .
“People have talked about a year, two years, maybe three years… I think there’s a broad consensus that this process has to be completed by the scheduled time of the next general election which is in June 2022.”
Some of Mr Hammond’s cabinet colleagues who campaigned for a Leave vote have said they accept that an “implementation period” in which the UK moves from EU membership to a new deal with the EU is likely.