CALLS for the Brexit transitional period to be extended due to the Covid-19 crisis have been firmly rejected by the city’s MP.

Robin Walker said there was clear mandate from last December’s general election to “get Brexit done,” and the government was continuing to work to the timetable.

The UK is currently in a transition period after leaving the EU in January. This period was designed to be dedicated to EU talks to reach a post-Brexit trading agreement and, despite the pandemic, the Prime Minister has consistently refused to extend this period beyond the end of 2020. Talks have continued, but Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove has now said their structure was “likely to change to reflect the current situation.”

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Campaigners fear there is a chance of no deal that they say will be damaging for the county. And an opinion poll of of 2,022 people, commissioned by Pro-EU group Best for Britain, found 64 per cent of voters across the political spectrum now supported an extension.

Councillor Louis Stephen, a vocal remain campaigner in recent years, said: “It is just sensible. This is not about staying in - we are leaving. We must make sure there are no distractions in fighting coronavirus. Officials (on both sides) could be distracted in talks. We could end up with a worse deal, or no deal. We need an extension, it is vital for city businesses. There is a real risk (of no deal), and why take risks? It would be reckless.”

But Mr Walker said: “An extension won’t happen. Face-to-face talks have not been able to take place, but that hasn’t stopped talks going on. I could understand business groups who always want to stay in, wanting an extension. But the vast majority want to move on.We had an election, the mandate was clear. Covid-19 has shown countries inside and outside the EU can work together.”