Boris Johnson must extend the Brexit transition: here’s why

Despite Scotland voting overwhelmingly to remain, Scotland has been dragged out of the EU – against the clear wishes of the Scottish people – by a hard Tory Brexit.

Brexit has already had a damaging impact on the Scottish economy, but the worst is still to come – the UK is still in the transition period meaning that our businesses and economy haven’t yet faced drastic change.

But time is running out. The UK’s own chief Brexit negotiator admits that the UK government is not making any progress in trade talks, and a catastrophic no-deal on 31 December 2020 grows ever more likely.

Boris Johnson must stop gambling with people’s livelihoods by running down the clock. Here’s why the UK government must urgently extend the Brexit transition.

Coronavirus, coupled with a no-deal Brexit, means economic disaster

If the UK government drags Scotland out with a no-deal Brexit by the end of December 2020, it would only exacerbate the economic crisis caused by coronavirus and make it much more difficult to recover.

Latest economic analysis from the Scottish Government forecasts additional barriers to trade with the EU, a significant disruption to supply chains, and plummeting business investment.

The new modelling indicates that Scotland’s economy could save up to £3 billion by extending the Brexit transition – helping us on the path to recovery from the most severe economic crisis in decades.

Ending the transition period will weaken our efforts to combat the virus too

Ending the transition in December 2020, especially without a deal in place, would mean lost opportunities to participate in EU-funded programmes – meaning the UK could pay more for a future COVID-19 vaccine and be at the back of a queue.

It would also mean Scotland is locked out of the EU’s proposed new health programme, which aims to assist in recovery from COVID-19 and helps strengthen the health response to future pandemics.

All this comes on top of the UK government’s dangerous obsession with cutting migration – at a time when the contribution of EU nationals to our health and social care sector is so vital to saving lives.

Scotland has been silenced and sidelined throughout the negotiations

The UK government has shut Scotland and other devolved nations out of any involvement in producing the negotiating mandate for the trade negotiations.

The Brexit outcome will significantly affect Scotland’s devolved powers – but despite the UK government promising the Scottish Government involvement and oversight, the Joint Ministerial Committee has only met once since January.

Throughout the whole process, Scottish ministers have barely even been kept updated on the negotiations that have so much impact on Scotland.

The EU has already put extension on the table – but Boris Johnson is refusing out of hand

In a letter to Ian Blackford and other opposition leaders at Westminster, the EU’s chief negotiator confirmed “an extension of up to one or two years can be agreed jointly by the two parties” before the July 1 deadline.

Just hours later, the UK’s chief negotiator talked to MPs about the “disappointing” latest round of talks, while flatly rejecting even the idea of an extension to safeguard the economy.

Experts and economists agree that the UK government’s arrogant refusal to extend the Brexit transition would cost livelihoods – with job losses and further business closures causing a downward spiral of economic hardship.

It’s time for the UK government to face reality and accept an extension

It would be unacceptable to pile a Brexit crisis on top of the coronavirus crisis we already face. It is economic common sense to accept an extension and protect our economy from more damage.

If the Tories continue to refuse an extension, they will be directly responsible for every job lost, every income slashed and every business going under as a result of their intransigence.

Boris Johnson must now urgently agree a Brexit transition period extension. Share this if you agree.