Both the SNP leader at Westminster Ian Blackford and the acting Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey have signed a letter to the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to support a Brexit delay. They told Mr Barnier there is “significant opposition” to the UK Government’s refusal to consider extending the timetable for talks.
They warned such a move to allow Brexi talks to take plance when “the efforts of national governments and the European Union will not be engaged solely with dealing with the dreadful COVID-19 epidemic”.
With the UK having formally quit the European Union, talks are taking place between the UK and EU to determine key areas such as future trading relationships.
But with the transition period due to expire at the end of this year, Remainers fear the UK may be forced into a no-deal scenario, if an agreement cannot be reached.
The letter to Mr Barnier has also been signed by Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts, Green MP Caroline Lucas, Stephen Farry, MP from the Alliance Party, as well as fellow Northern Ireland MP Colum Eastwood of the Social Democratic and Labour Party.
They contacted Mr Barnier to highlight the “significant opposition to the UK Government’s extreme position amongst the business community, the general public and elected representatives”.
The opposition MPs noted the Scottish and Welsh governments both backed an extension of the transition period, along with “the majority of political parties in the Northern Ireland Executive”.
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He said: “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.”
But he claimed: “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.”
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains defiant, with a UK Government spokesman saying “we will not ask to extend the transition period”.