The current EU trade deal negotiations are getting nowhere, and to distract the EU and its member states from handling Covid-19 now will prove counter-productive for any future deal.

We face the worst recession in 300 years; our economy could take at least three years to recover. Up to five million people could lose their jobs in the UK.

Despite this, Brexiter Ministers and the ERG insist on compounding this collapse with a catastrophic, ideological, No-Deal Brexit on 31st December 2020. Yet recent polling indicates two thirds of the British public want the government to extend the negotiating period beyond the end of this year. This includes half of all “leave” supporters.

Covid-19 is a global pandemic. Government should concentrate on the current crisis and avoid all distractions, especially a damaging No-Deal Brexit nobody voted for.

Covid-19 makes a nonsense of the exit timetable. Time and resources are very short for a future EU trade deal. Instead, the Government should help solve shared problems of Covid-19 with our European colleagues.

The Government must, belatedly, learn the lessons of the Cygnus report (2017) on pandemic preparedness. It should listen to the Opposition parties, our EU friends, the IMF, the CBI, the British Chambers of Commerce, and our business leaders and scientists. It must request an immediate two-year extension to the Brexit trade talks.

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