European Movement urges Labour to work with them to help secure Brexit extension

Stephen Dorrell at an event to discuss the future of British politics at the Church House in Westmin

Stephen Dorrell at an event to discuss the future of British politics at the Church House in Westminster. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The chair of European Movement has called on Labour's Lisa Nandy to work with them to pressure the government into negotiating a two-year Brexit transition extension.

Highlighting a clause within the Withdrawal Agreement, the pro-EU group's chair Stephen Dorrell encouraged the newly-appointed shadow foreign secretary to stick with her previous comments and push Boris Johnson to extend trade talks with the EU.

In a letter to Nandy, Dorrell said it was ludicrous to pursue a no-deal Brexit given the impact the current epidemic is having on the economy.

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He wrote: 'It is not a question of being pro or anti Brexit; it is simply a question of avoiding additional risks to the UK economy at a time when the OBR is projecting a 'reference scenario' in which UK output in 2020 is 13% less than it was in 2019 – and even Brexit supporting newspapers are projecting the 'biggest economic shock in 300 years'.'

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He continued:'How can it possibly be right to compound these risks with the additional avoidable risk of a cliff-edge exit from traditional markets at precisely the time when we all hope that our economy will be starting the long process of recovery?'

The letter follows a petition launched by the cross-party pressure group, which advocates for strong ties with Europe, that has already received more than 40,000 signatures when it launched a week ago. You can sign the petition here

Nandy campaigned against Brexit during the 2016 referendum and has since championed a close relationship with the EU. She was recently appointed to the cross bench by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

On March 9, the member for Wigan told the Guardian that the government should extend the Brexit transition period to sure up businesses who already faced uncertainties caused by the outbreak of Covid-19.

She said: 'In a crisis, uncertainty must be minimised. That is the lesson from the financial crisis in 2008 and every global crisis before it. So first, we must agree with the EU to extend the Brexit transition period. Our businesses and our communities cannot cope with more uncertainty during this outbreak'

She earlier told the Independent that the UK's future 'lies with Europe on national security, on climate crisis, on the refugee crisis and the mass migration of people fuelled by climate change, and on trade and jobs and investment.'

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