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Rennie calls for Scottish leaders to jointly press for Brexit transition extension

June 3, 2020 12:00 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Ahead of Wednesday's Scottish Parliament Brexit statement, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has invited his fellow party leaders to sign a joint letter to the UK Government requesting an extension to the Brexit transition period until after the coronavirus crisis has subsided.

His call comes after EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier made clear in a letter to Westminster leaders that an extension to the Brexit transition period is possible.

Mr Rennie said:

"The Scottish Government have rightly stood down civil servants from preparing for another independence referendum. That was the right thing to do in the middle of a global pandemic. The full focus must be on this priority.

"The same onus must be on the UK Government too. It is illogical for the UK Government to carry on with Brexit especially now that the negotiations are facing difficulties. The UK Government must take the opportunity to seek an extension with the European Union so that all our attention can be on what matters most - beating the virus.

"Extending the transition period is the only sensible option. So, I hope the other party leaders will join me in submitting a joint request for an extension."

Mr Rennie's letter to party leaders is as follows:

Dear Nicola, Jackson, Richard, Patrick and Alison,

I write to invite you to sign a joint letter to the UK Government requesting an extension to the Brexit transition period until after the coronavirus crisis has subsided.

Extending the transition period would be in the national interest. This is not about repeating the Brexit debate. This is about recognising the realities of a global pandemic. At the critical moment in the negotiations, ministers' attentions are needed elsewhere given the immediate threat to lives and livelihoods.

It would send the strongest message if the Scottish parties could unite in calling for an extension to the transition period until after the coronavirus crisis has been resolved.

This is the text I propose to send tomorrow morning. I hope you will join me in submitting this joint request for an extension to the Prime Minister and look forward to your reply.

Best wishes,

Willie Rennie

Dear Prime Minister,

We write to request that you work with the EU to agree an extension to the Brexit transition period until after the coronavirus crisis has subsided, in recognition of the immediate threat to lives and livelihoods.

Extending the transition period would be in the national interest. This is not about repeating the Brexit debate. This is about recognising the realities of a global pandemic. At the critical moment in the negotiations, ministers' attentions are needed elsewhere.

It's clear that an extension is possible and we urge you to take that sensible option.

This is an opportunity for the UK Government to demonstrate both its focus on the monumental task at hand and the importance of the Brexit negotiations.