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Poll wants extension

Call to halt ‘irresponsible’ Brexit talks during virus crisis

Ian Murray: ‘impossible to secure a deal’ (pic: Terry Murden)

Boris Johnson is facing calls to extend the Brexit talks from a number of bodies who say the government needs to focus on tackling the coronavirus.

Two-thirds of those polled in a survey say the government should request an extension to the Brexit transition period. In Scotland, the figure rises to 78% – the highest of any part in the UK.

The Focaldata poll was commissioned by cross-party campaign group Best for Britain and HOPE not hate and the findings have been supported by SNP and Labour party members.

Only a third (36%) agreed with the statement ‘the Brexit transition period must end on 31 December whether a deal has been fixed or not’.

An extension was supported by more than 50% of people across all age groups, with 18-24 year olds the most supportive (78%) and 65+ year olds the least supportive (52%).

Best for Britain CEO Naomi Smith said: “It’s simply not reasonable to expect we will have tied up negotiations with the EU by the end of the year while dealing with a warlike emergency. Nor is it desirable.

“By thinking it can complete both challenges at once, the UK Government would be setting itself up for failure with profound economic consequences.

“Most people just want the government to get on with the job at hand so that lives can be saved and normality restored as quickly as possible

“This is particularly the case in Scotland, where nearly four-fifths of people support an extension, which has also been called for by the Scottish Government.

“The country is simply not in a place to weather two storms at the moment.”

Continuing talks would be irresponsible and an act of economic and social self-harm

– Philippa Whitford, SNP

The SNP’s Dr Philippa Whitford MP said: “It is impossible for businesses and others to prepare for life outside the EU while coping with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis at the same time, and many might struggle to survive the second blow of a hard Brexit at the end of this year.

“Continuing talks and hurtling towards the transition period deadline would be irresponsible and an act of economic and social self-harm.

“It is now vital that the UK government hits pause on all Brexit negotiations and immediately seeks an extension to the transition period to remove the uncertainty and instability.”

Ian Murray MP, Labour deputy leadership candidate, said: “It is simply impossible to secure a Brexit deal that protects businesses and workers before the end of the year.

“This is not a time for constitutional politics. This is a time for working together, both within the UK and with the EU.

“The UK Government needs to formally apply for an extension to the transition period so that all focus remains on addressing the coronavirus outbreak.”

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