CROSS-PARTY LEADERS CALL FOR BREXIT TRANSITION PERIOD EXTENSION
LETTER TO BARNIER SAYS MOVE KEY TO PROTECT ECONOMY AMID CORONAVIRUS
Opposition leaders have made a joint call for the UK government and EU to agree a two-year extension to the Brexit transition period.
In a letter to Michel Barnier, the Westminster leaders of the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Greens, and Alliance Party affirmed their support for an extension to protect the economy in the face of the coronavirus crisis. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, an extension has to be agreed by the end of next month.
The call from the six parties from every nation of the UK, follows a series of polls by YouGov, Panelbase and Focaldata showing the majority of people support an extension. A poll by Focaldata published on Friday found eighty-three per cent (83%) of people in Scotland and seventy-seven per cent (77%) across Britain say the government should agree to an extension to the transition period.
Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said:
"Time is running out until we hit the hard Brexit deadline. It is vital that the Tory government does the only responsible thing and accepts a two-year extension to the transition period.
"Crashing out with a bad deal or no deal in the middle of the coronavirus crisis, would deal a double hammer blow to the economy just when we will need all the help we can get to save jobs, businesses and living standards.
"It increasingly appears the Tory government is intent on taking Scotland and the UK down the path of a devastating no-deal. That would be beyond reckless.
"The coronavirus economic crash is the worst in living memory. People and businesses are already struggling to get by. The Tory government must put its responsibilities to the economy ahead of its Brexit obsession.
"Polls consistently show that the overwhelming majority of people in Scotland and across the UK want to see an extension to the Brexit transition period - and there is growing consensus across political parties. It's time for the UK government to act." ____________________________________________________________ Text of the letter
We write regarding the conclusions of the latest round of negotiations between the UK and EU and express our deep concern at the lack of progress.
We are now only a matter of weeks away from the final round of talks which are due to convene on June 1st. This ultimate set of negotiations will significantly inform the joint summit at which a decision will be made on whether ‘sufficient progress’ has been achieved and whether to extend the transition period beyond 31st December 2020.
We note with deep concern warnings on the lack of progress in the negotiations thus far. The clock is ticking, and crucial choices are mounting.
The UK Government’s current position, that it intends to ‘double down’ on its end of year deadline, means we now contemplate the real threat of simultaneously facing a devastating no-deal exit and the worst health crisis in a century. For the UK, leaving the EU with a bad deal - or no deal - this year would be catastrophic for many businesses already struggling to survive. With only weeks left, it is critical that this scenario does not come to pass.
We write to advise you of significant opposition to the UK Government’s extreme position amongst the business community, the general public and elected representatives. Extensive polling across the UK confirms this to be the case. It is equally important to note that the Scottish and Welsh Governments, as well as the majority of political parties in the Northern Ireland Executive, have made clear their position that an extension of the transition is now a necessity.
A consensus is taking shape and we hope the UK Government will soon recognise reality. It is now in all of our common interests to agree and secure an extension to the transition period. This will enable these detailed and defining negotiations to be conducted at a time when, we hope, the efforts of national governments and the European Union will not be engaged solely with dealing with the dreadful Covid-19 epidemic.
We hope and trust that the European Union will look favourably upon a request for an extension and would urge you to prioritise this issue in the final round of negotiations.
Ian Blackford MP, SNP Ed Davey MP, Liberal Democrat party Liz Saville Roberts MP, Plaid Cymru Colum Eastwood MP, Social Democratic and Labour Party Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party Stephen Farry MP, Alliance Party