Campaigners want a two-year extension to the transition period as Britain struggles with the Covid-19 pandemic
Thousands of people have backed calls for Brexit to be delayed amidst the coronavirus crisis.
Scotland’s largest pro-EU campaign organisation, the European Movement in Scotland (EMis) has added its voice to calls for a two-year extension to the Brexit transition period, which culminates at the end of this year.
Urging the UK Government to focus on tackling the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, the call comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to meet EU institution leaders (the president of the European Council, Commission and Parliament) today (Monday 15 June).
Branding the refusal to extend as “highly reckless”, the demand by EMiS comes as a petition calling for such an extension passes the 100,000 threshold.
Passing this mark this requires the Petitions Committee of the Westminster Parliament to give serious consideration to whether such a delay should be debated. An Edinburgh constituency, Edinburgh North and Leith, has led the charge with more signatures than any constituency in the UK.
The First Ministers of Scotland and Wales have both written to Boris Johnson, requesting an extension period and a recent Ipsos Mori poll indicates that just under two-thirds – 64% – of people in Scotland believe the UK Government should seek an extension to focus on the pandemic. This compares to 54% across the UK.
Recent evidence also points to the fact that the UK’s economic output has declined by over 20% in April amid warnings of seismic job losses caused by the Covid lockdown.
The World Trade Organisation has also warned that a No Deal Brexit during an economic recession could be as deep as the Great Depression.
David Clarke, vice-chair of the European Movement in Scotland, said: “Despite experiencing one of the largest global pandemics, Boris Johnson’s government recklessly ploughs on with a transition period due to finish at the end of this year, deaf and blind to the enormous damage a poor Brexit deal or indeed no deal will have on an already weakened UK economy.
“If it is to be anything short of an economic catastrophe, the matter of negotiating a good trading deal with the EU should be set to one side until it can be given the serious attention that it clearly now requires.
"We are urging the Prime Minister to propose a two-year extension to the Brexit transition period.
“Such an extension is vital if the UK is not to suffer an even more grievous body-blow to our economy and society from Brexit, on top of the pandemic.
"So far, Boris Johnson has adamantly rejected any extension, but he now faces a full-scale Westminster debate after a petition demanding an extension while the ravages of Covid-19 continue passed the 100,000 barrier set by the Commons.”