A hard Brexit during coronavirus ‘unforgivable’ SNP leader tells Boris Johnson

PUBLISHED: 13:38 28 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:38 28 April 2020

Boris Johnson on the general election trail. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

Boris Johnson on the general election trail. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

The leader of the SNP in Westminster has called on Boris Johnson to “demonstrate some political courage” and extend Brexit talks by two years.

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Ian Blackford wrote to the prime minister arguing that a hard exit from the EU during the coronavirus crisis was “unforgivable.”

Calling on the PM to put the UK economy ahead of the demands of Brexit hardliners within his own party and seek an extension, Blackford said: “Ploughing ahead with a hard Brexit deadline – and threatening the disaster of no-deal – in the middle of a global pandemic and economic crisis would cause unforgivable damage to jobs, businesses, living standards and the economy.”

“The clock is ticking; the Tory leader must show leadership,” he added.

The Highland MP has called for a meeting to discuss the government’s trade talk plans and urged Johnson to do dump the “Brexit dogma” and pause negotiations while Downing Street grapples with the current epidemic.

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He wrote: “All logic, and any degree of sense, points to the foolishness and irresponsibility of attempting to negotiate an entirely new, and distant, relationship with the European Union, in the midst of the worst health pandemic in a century.

“In the face of this health emergency, it is your duty to demonstrate some political courage and explain to those who have supported you in your Brexit efforts that a further EU transition is now needed.”

The Scottish leader joins a growing number of MPs appealing to Johnson to extend Brexit talks for another two years.

Downing Street has said a deal is reachable if EU leaders intervene in talks.

Meanwhile, a pro-Brexit Tory MP has told the government not enter a fisheries agreement with the EU.

The UK has been accused of “cherry picking” EU benefits in the latest round of trade negotiations after it failed to agreed to some important trade points but not others. The UK also failed to submit draft trade proposals on fisheries, justice and security, and the level playing field.

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