Two thirds say Britain should extend its EU transition deal into 2021

Xinhua News Agency | Apr 7, 2020 at 12:46 PM

LONDON, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Two thirds of people in Britain support a Brexit extension beyond the end of this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey released Tuesday.

The survey by political consultancy WPI Strategy showed 67 percent of people polled back a delay beyond December.

Britain, which ended its membership of the European Union (EU) on January 31, is currently in a transitional period to enable its government and Brussels to strike a permanent new trade deal.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, currently in intensive care for COVID-19 infection, has continually insisted there will be no extension to the transition period.

In the survey, four in 10 people said they believe Johnson's government should extend the transition for however long it takes until the COVID-19 outbreak is over.

Less than a fifth of respondents, or just 19 percent, support the government's end-of-year deadline and fully back leaving the EU at the end of this year.

In the study, 6 percent said the transition period should be extended by three months to March 2021, while 11 percent suggested a six-month delay to June 2021. Another 12 percent called for a year-long extension to the end of 2021.

"While one in five people do support the government's current stance to leave the EU with or without a future trade deal in place before the end of the year, it is clear the majority of people in Britain do not share that view," said WPI Director Nick Faith.

The insistence that the transition period will not be extended beyond Dec. 31 is written into British law and will need parliamentary consent to be changed.

British media in London quoted a government spokesperson as saying that the transition period would end at the end of this year.

The spokesperson added that Britain remains absolutely committed to carrying on negotiations with Brussels despite the pandemic, with talks between both sides taking place remotely.