Have your say: Should the Brexit transition be extended due to COVID?

Victoria Bell
·2-min read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Brussels, Belgium, for a dinner with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen where they will try to reach a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade deal.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Brussels, Belgium, for a dinner with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen where they will try to reach a breakthrough on a post-Brexit trade deal.

It has been an unprecedented year as countries across the globe continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Just as we began to see a glimmer of hope as the first vaccines are rolled out, a new mutated strain of the COVID-19 which is said to be 70% more infectious has been identified in Britain and has been driving the huge spike in infections in London and the South of England.

The severity of the situation became clear when Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed tougher measures at the weekend, banning families from mixing at Christmas just days after announcing it would be “inhuman” to do so.

As the December 31 deadline looms, calls have grown for Johnson to extend the post-Brexit transition period to focus on rising coronavirus cases along with travel chaos as an ever-growing list of countries shut their borders with Britain to stop the new variant reaching their shores.

Conservative MPs, along with First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, are asking for the Prime Minister to request for post-Brexit trade talks to be pushed to next year.

Sturgeon tweeted on Sunday that Britain faced a “profoundly serious situation” with the new mutation of coronavirus, which “demands our 100% attention”.

“It would be unconscionable to compound it with Brexit,” she said.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also called for the transition period to be extended, tweeting: “I’m urging the Government to officially seek an extension to the Brexit transition period.

“Securing our key supply chains and fighting the coronavirus pandemic requires the full and undivided efforts of ministers more than ever before.”

Asked if the Brexit transition period would be looked at, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps quashed hopes saying there would “absolutely not” be an extension.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I think the one thing which could actually add fuel to the fire would be ending something that everyone’s known is ending for a very long time, which is the end of the transition period which completes on the 31st December, so absolutely not, no.

“The important thing is that businesses continue to prepare, that individuals are prepared and as I say, as it happens, it’s because we’ve got some of those contingencies in place, for example being able to open up Manston as a lorry park for what’s actually happening today, that planning is in place, because of all the work that’s gone on with the Kent Resilience Forum and others preparing for the end of the transition, in any case.”