Should Brexit be put on hold?
After being forced to postpone the negotiations due to coronavirus, the EU and Britain are resuming the efforts to define their post-Brexit relations this week. London does not want to extend the transitional period for leaving the EU which is scheduled to end on 31 December. Media discuss whether this is a responsible position in view of the current battle against the repercussions of the pandemic.
Spare businesses another shock
The British government should ask for an extension of the transition phase, The Sunday Times argues:
“Businesses, having devoted all their efforts to surviving the lockdown, have put Brexit preparations on the backburner. To inflict on them an abrupt change in Britain's relationship with the EU, or a no-deal Brexit, would be the height of irresponsibility. It adds to the impression that this is a government that puts Brexit above everything else. ... It chimes with Boris Johnson's infamous 'F*** business' quote. It fits with a narrative of a government so obsessed with Brexit that it was slow to respond to the coronavirus danger in January and February.”
Posponement would cause even more uncertainty
Precisely because of the corona crisis the UK should seek to sever its ties with the EU as swiftly as possible, Daniel Hannan, a Conservative former MEP, counters in The Daily Telegraph:
“Changing course now would create more of the very thing that Remainers have spent the past four years warning against: uncertainty. Businesses would have no idea whether and when to adapt to new trade schedules. ... We would risk being drawn into whatever stimulus packages Brussels decrees in response to the Spanish and Italian tragedies. ... To remain trapped indefinitely in that worst-of-all-worlds limbo, subject to every dot and comma of EU law but without any ability to veto those laws, would be madness.”