SNP: Refusal to extend Brexit talks raises prospect of no deal

SNP leader at Westminster Ian Blackford accused the Tory Government of behaving with the 'height of irresponsibility'.

The UK faces the “chilling prospect” of a no deal Brexit and a double blow to the economy because of the Government’s refusal to extend the transition period, Ian Blackford has warned.

The SNP leader at Westminster accused the Tory Government of behaving with the “height of irresponsibility” by not extending talks with the EU in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

But Tory MP David Duguid argued that keeping the “hardline target” would “focus efforts”, despite the disruption and economic damage being caused by the global lockdown.

He also suggested that to push back the leaving date would affect any companies’ plans they had devised before the coronavirus lockdown, as well as causing uncertainty for business.

With the withdrawal framework needing to be agreed by June, Blackford said the country is heading towards a no-deal Brexit, describing the situation as a “very chilling prospect”.

Calling for the Government to accept the EU’s offer of an extension to the Brexit process, he said: “On the back of the health crisis, quite rightly we’ve had to take measures to protect people and that’s meant that we’ve crashed the economy.

“Many people were talking about the UK economy shrinking by 35% as a consequence of that.

“I have to say to the Government it’s the height of irresponsibility to then threaten this second blow to the economy if we’re daft enough to go down the road of a no-deal Brexit.”

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Blackford suggested the Government was pushing ahead with the original Brexit deadlines so they can “blame any economic impact” on the coronavirus crisis, rather than as a result of leaving the European Union.

Duguid said that all Conservative MPs signed a pledge before the 2019 election that the UK would leave the UK no later than December 2020 and said not doing so would hinder our ability to negotiate new trade deals.

While acknowledging the coronavirus will have a “huge effect on the economy”, the Banff and Buchan MP suggested that would be made worse by “kicking the can down the road” and extending the negotiations with the EU.

“We need to keep that hardline target, that deadline, which will focus efforts,” Duguid said.

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