SNP MSP Ruth Maguire has called on the UK government to extend the Brexit transition period in light of coronavirus – with new analysis showing billions of pounds could be wiped from the Scottish economy.

The transition arrangements currently keep the UK close to the EU and can be extended for two years – beyond 31 December – if the UK Government asks for an extension by the end of this month.

But a new study from the Scottish Government says if an extension is not agreed, Scottish GDP could be up to 1.1% lower after two years. The cumulative loss of economic activity from leaving the EU would be up to £3 billion over those two years – on top of the devastating effects of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The paper indicates there will be further major costs from Brexit for years to come and also highlights that without an extension or having a free trade deal in place, Scotland’s agriculture, fisheries and manufacturing sectors will be especially badly hit.

Ms Maguire said:

“Coronavirus is causing enormous economic disruption and people across North Ayrshire expect government to be focused on protecting public health and the Scottish economy.

“It would be an act of extraordinary recklessness for the UK government to allow us to crash out of the transition period at the end of this year.

“The SNP believe the best future for Scotland is as an independent member of the EU.

“But regardless of your opinion on Brexit or independence, it makes no sense to crash out of the European single market at precisely the moment we need stability.

“Businesses in North Ayrshire are focused on securing their future – they simply don’t have the capacity to prepare for Brexit on top of a pandemic.

“The UK government must do the sensible thing, protect jobs in North Ayrshire and extend the transition period.”

COVID-19: The Case for Extending the Brexit Transition Period