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Scottish Labour at odds with Keir Starmer after openly supporting Brexit extension

Richard Leonard, leader of the Scottish Labour Party speaks as she attends a statement from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions, at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

Cracks in the Labour’s position on Brexit have been exacerbated after its leader in Scotland backed calls for an extension.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said he supported an extension of EU trade talks in light of the Covid-19 crisis, putting his party at odds with UK leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Downing Street has until December 31 to strike a trade deal with the EU.

If no agreement is reached, the UK will be forced to trade with the bloc on World Trade Organisation terms and see tariffs slapped on good crossing the Channel.

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Although Sir Keir has come out against a no-deal, he is yet to officially rule out supporting an extension.

He said: “I don’t want an extension, I want a deal.

“And just delaying it further isn’t going to help with the great uncertainty there already is for businesses. So, I say to the prime minister, get on and deliver the deal that you promised.

“Get on and deliver it this week, today, tomorrow, and then we can recall parliament and deal with it.”

Scottish Labour has already said it will not adopt Sir Keir’s position as it debates a Brexit bill in Holyrood on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Leonard told the Daily Record: “Scottish Labour will be calling for an extension to the Brexit process in today’s debate, in light of the escalation of the Covid crisis.”

The Scottish Labour leader’s stance echoes the view expressed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who tweeted: “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.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also called for a prolonging of negotiations.

She said it was “imperative” that Boris Johnson secured an extension.

She wrote: “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.”

A party source said Scottish Labour had taken the “correct” decision and questioned Sir Keir’s approach.