Britain officially left the European Union on January 31 and talks to strike a trade deal with the EU before the December 31 deadline have hit a stumbling block following the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. SNP Constitution Secretary Mike Russell has called on the Westminster Government to request a two year delay before June 30 date for an extension expires, as he claims Scotland could not afford the “double hit” of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.
The pleas have fallen onto deaf-ears, after a poll of more than 12,000 Express.co.uk readers found nine-in-ten believe the UK should not extend the Brexit transition period.
The survey conducted on Monday, April 20 between 11.46am and 7pm asked 12,046 readers a yes or no question: “Should Boris Johnson delay Brexit by two years because of the coronavirus pandemic?”
A huge 96 percent (11,554) of people did not want a delay and voted no.
Just four percent (492) of those surveyed thought there should be more time to negotiate with the EU and voted yes.
A don’t know option was not offered to those surveyed.
A number of furious Brexiteers hit out at the possibility of yet another Brexit delay.
One user said: “We voted to LEAVE. Ever since then we are being asked countless times about leave/remain/extension etc… We should have left the moment we voted to leave.”
A second reader said: “I wouldn’t delay Brexit by two minutes never mind two years.”
A third user said: “No way. We leave with no deal or a fair deal and on schedule.”
A fourth reader wrote: “We MUST leave – now more than ever.”
Mr Russell, a key political ally of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, called for an urgent meeting with Brexit negotiators and urged Britain to maintain a “close as possible” relationship with the bloc during the coronavirus crisis.
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“The Scottish economy cannot afford the double hit of COVID-19 and the growing likelihood of a no deal or at best a hard Brexit deal in less than nine months’ time.
“The voices of all four UK nations must be heard and I am therefore calling for an urgent meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee (European Negotiations), which has the task of overseeing negotiations.
“Clearly if it does not meet, it cannot oversee.”
The Prime Minister has always insisted the UK would honour the current negotiating timetable agreed within the Withdrawal Agreement and would not ask the EU for an extension.
Downing Street has confirmed the UK will continue virtual negotiations with Brussels this week and the December 31 deadline is written into law.
A Government spokeswoman said: “Our top priority as a Government is to slow the spread of the coronavirus, protect the NHS and keep people safe – we are working around the clock to do so, with all four nations together providing unprecedented financial support for businesses, workers and the self-employed.
“We remain fully committed to the negotiations and the second round is taking place by video conference this week.
“The transition period ends on 31 December 2020, as enshrined in UK law, which the Prime Minister has made clear he has no intention of changing.”