News

Extend Brexit transition during COVID-19 crisis

Published: 20 Apr 2020 00:01

Cabinet Secretary: “We cannot risk double hit of coronavirus and No Deal.”

The UK Government is being urged to ask the European Union (EU) for the maximum two-year extension to the Brexit transition period.

Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said it is essential for the UK Government to seek the full extension on offer to avoid further damage to jobs, wellbeing and the economy.

Mr Russell said it was reckless for the UK Government to continue negotiations, pushing forward its plans for a hard Brexit, at the height of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

He has called for an urgent meeting to be held by videoconference with all four UK nations on the Joint Ministerial Committee (European Negotiations), which has not met in any form since January.

Mr Russell said:

“Instead of its reckless decision to pursue a hard Brexit in the middle of this unprecedented crisis, the UK Government should today be asking the EU for the maximum two-year extension to the transition period.

“The benefits of co-ordinated European action have never been clearer.

“An extended transition will keep the UK as close as possible to the EU and provide an opportunity to re-think the future relationship.

“The UK Government is pressing ahead with negotiations without properly involving the Scottish Government, or taking account of our views.

“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.”

Background

The UK and the EU are in a transitional period during which the UK is aligned with EU rules.

This will last until 31 December 2020 but under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement the period may be extended by mutual agreement, by up to two years, if the UK requests an extension before 30 June this year.