Brexit: Ben Habib urges UK to ‘pull the plug’ on negotiations
The discovery of the new faster-spreading coronavirus strain forced the Prime Minister to introduce tough measures in London and South East England. The First Minister of Scotland warned the UK was in a “profoundly serious situation” because of the virus mutation.
Last night, the First Minister made clear it was “unconscionable” to leave the European Union at the end of the year.
She added: “It’s now imperative that the PM seeks an agreement to extend the Brexit transition period.
“The new COVID strain and the various implications of it means we face a profoundly serious situation and it demands our 100% attention.
“It would be unconscionable to compound it with Brexit.”
Ms Sturgeon said 17 cases of the new strain had been identified in Scotland – 16 of which were in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region.
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The discovery of the faster-spreading mutation prompted both the UK and Scottish governments to drastically scale back the easing of restrictions over Christmas.
Countries across Europe have started banning flights from Britain over fears of the new variant, which is up to 70 percent more transmissible than the original strain.
The Scottish Government has been at odds with the UK Government over them being allowed to join in trade talks with the EU with Edinburgh warning Scotland was being taken out of the EU against its will.
The Brexit transition period is due to end on December 31st but a deal is yet to be agreed with an impasse remaining on fishing.
Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Michael Russell claimed a “grace period” should be implemented to allow the “current crisis to be addressed”.
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Speaking this morning, he hit out about the prospect of a no deal Brexit, adding: “An ugly, centralising, arrogant, Westminster sovereignty-asserting, global-Britain glorifying Brexit is now firmly anchored in the DNA of the Tory party, even at Holyrood.
“It is the antithesis of what Scotland, as all the evidence shows, is and wants to be – outward looking, inclusive, and collaborative.”
Mr Russell said he was prepared to “accept that there are some honest Brexiteers who still believe that leaving the EU will usher in a new era of opportunity. “
However, he warned: “The fact that there is not a single fact to support that belief does not invalidate either their right to hold it, nor their right to campaign for it.”
Dean Lockhart MSP, Scottish Conservative Constitution spokesperson, claimed Ms Sturgeon should use her recent heartfelt message to the EU to reserve UK travel bans.
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He suggested: “Let’s be honest, Nicola Sturgeon would think that dropping her pencil is a reason to extend the transition period.
“She is at least consistent. How about she uses her supposed influence with our EU friends to seek urgent clarity on the closure of the French border to UK freight?”
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland Programme this morning, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross disagreed with an extension saying the UK “is very close to a deal.”
He added: “Any extension would simply stop the talks. The negotiators are the people who have been involved throughout this.
“Both teams have been dealing with this throughout the pandemic.”
A UK Government source said the Brexit talks were difficult and would continue but made clear there would be no extension to the transition.
They told Express.co.uk this morning: “We are negotiating with the EU and will look at every option to secure a deal.
“There will be no extension to the transition period, this idea seems unfeasible.”
Boris Johnson is set to chair a meeting of the Government’s Cobra civil contingencies committee on Monday as ministers seek to ensure a “steady flow of freight into and out of the UK”.
The Scottish Government is expected to take part in the Cobra meeting and Ms Sturgeon will then chair a resilience committee meeting to discuss freight disruption.
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