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Brexit negotiations should be extended to avoid more economic damage, says Highland MSP Maree Todd

By Andrew Dixon

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Maree Todd.
Maree Todd.

A HIGHLAND MSP wants the UK government to extend the Brexit negotiation deadline, to avoid more economic damage.

Maree Todd thinks the UK’s exit from the EU would be blow on top of whatever results from the coronavirus crisis.

The SNP politician says leaders in Westminster should concentrate on tackling the pandemic.

The UK has formally left the EU but remains in a so-called transition period.

A two-year extension to this transition period is said to be on offer, but the Tory government at Westminster is instead pressing on with complex negotiations in a bid to reach an agreement by the end of the year.

Mrs Todd said: “For the Tory government to pursue its plans to impose a hard Brexit on the country, while we are facing a global health emergency, is reckless in the extreme.

“The Highlands and Islands voted to remain in the EU and it’s clear that businesses here simply do not have the capacity to prepare for Brexit when they are fighting to survive the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

“People and businesses in the Highlands and Islands will be understandably concerned about this, so it’s imperative that the UK government does the responsible thing and requests an extension to the transition period to avoid even more economic and social damage.

“There is still time for the UK government to change course, listen to the public, and ensure that every effort is put to tackling the coronavirus pandemic.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator David Frost said last week: “As we prepare for the next rounds of negotiations, I want to reiterate the government’s position on the transition period created following our withdrawal from the EU. Transition ends on December 31 this year. We will not ask to extend it. If the EU asks, we will say no.

“Extending would simply prolong negotiations, create even more uncertainty, leave us liable to pay more to the EU in future, and keep us bound by evolving EU laws at a time when we need to control our own affairs. In short, it is not in the UK’s interest to extend.”

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