Alyn Smith, MP for Stirling, has welcomed a letter from Michael Barnier confirming that the European Union remains open to a two-year extension to the Brexit transition period – and has called on Boris Johnson to accept the offer to protect jobs and the economy amid the coronavirus crisis.
In a letter to the Westminster leaders of the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Green Party and Alliance Party this morning, the EU’s chief negotiator confirmed “an extension of up to one or two years can be agreed jointly by the two parties. The EU has always said that we remain open on this matter.”
However with just a month left until the deadline, Mr Barnier confirmed ‘Any extension decision has to be taken by the Joint Committee before 1 July’ – meaning the UK could crash out with a devastating bad deal or catastrophic No-Deal if Boris Johnson refuses to agree an extension by the end of June. Yesterday, EU officials warned there was a risk of ‘stalemate’ due to the lack of progress in the negotiations.
The six parties, from every nation of the UK, wrote to Mr Barnier on 15th May calling for the UK and the EU to agree to a two-year extension. Polls from YouGov, Panelbase and Focaldata show the majority of people support an extension. A poll by Focaldata, published on 15th May, found eighty-three per cent (83%) of people in Scotland and seventy-seven per cent (77%) across Britain say the UK government should agree to an extension to the transition period.
Alyn Smith MP said:
‘There’s no good news in Brexit. In the fallout of this coronavirus pandemic, the UK government simply cannot afford to play fast and loose with jobs, living standards and the economy. Failing to agree an extension before the July deadline would be an absolute disaster for businesses in my constituency of Stirling, and for those right across the nation.
‘It would be sheer folly to pile an entirely avoidable Brexit crisis on top of the existing economic and social devastation caused by COVID-19.
‘With only a month remaining to agree an extension, time is running out to prevent a bad deal – or the unimaginable return of a No-Deal scenario.
‘I’ll continue to work with SNP colleagues to push for a long extension, one that will protect Scotland’s economy and safeguard businesses and jobs. Yet the only way to guarantee Scotland’s interests and protect our place at the heart of Europe remains becoming an independent country.’
Letter from Michael Barnier to Ian Blackford and other Westminster leaders (Wednesday 27th May): https://mcusercontent.com/4fae14f57a18ee08253ffc251/files/b4a2410d-267d-4cfc-938f-1b88a428660e/REPLY_Ares_2020_2597804_UK_PARLIAMENT_Correspondence_to_Michel_Barnier.pdf.pdf
Cross-party letter to Michel Barnier (Sunday 15th May): https://mcusercontent.com/4fae14f57a18ee08253ffc251/files/4b2f8d0b-63a8-4f55-a2c6-13c047572fc3/Letter_to_Barnier.pdf
‘Opposition MPs write to EU negotiator to seek Brexit talks extension’ – https://www.itv.com/news/2020-05-17/opposition-mps-write-to-eu-negotiator-to-seek-brexit-talks-extension/
‘Brexit talks ‘risk stalemate’ if no progress on key issues’ (26th May) – https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/may/26/brexit-talks-risk-stalemate-if-no-progress-on-key-issues
YouGov poll (8 April 2020) – https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/survey-results/daily/2020/04/08/ad558/1
Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times (24-26 March 2020) – https://www.drg.global/wp-content/uploads/ST-Tables-for-publication-260320-v2.pdf
Focaldata poll (7th-9th April) – https://www.bestforbritain.org/poll_brits_want_long_brexit_extension_to_deal_with_coronavirus_-_including_49_of_leave_voters
Focaldata poll (20-23rd March 2020) – https://www.bestforbritain.org/poll_brits_want_brexit_transition_extension