Put pressure on the government to extend the Brexit transition period

We have written to Sir Keir Starmer, with representatives of more than a hundred other cross-party groups in the UK and several EU countries, together representing more than 375,000 members and active supporters. The text of the letter is below and we are adding names of signatories from other groups as we receive them.

Dear Sir Keir,

We are writing to you as representatives of a number of cross-party groups that are extremely concerned about the government’s refusal to seek an extension to the Brexit transition period.

At a time when we face unprecedented economic and social challenges as a result of the coronavirus, including the certainty of a deep economic recession and massive job losses, it is unconscionable that the government proposes to exacerbate this terrible situation by jeopardising our trading relationship with the world’s largest free trade area.

It’s clear that neither the UK government nor the European Union is currently able to devote adequate time or attention to the complex negotiations needed to secure a workable trade agreement. It thus looks very likely that the government’s artificially imposed deadline will lead to the hardest of Brexits on 31 December, with no agreement – or an inadequate one –  in place.

For many businesses that are already in extreme difficulty, from farms to manufacturers, this would mean bankruptcy and closure. For the UK and a whole, it would mean an even deeper recession, when the Bank of England is already predicting a 14% drop in GDP – worse than has been seen in 300 years.

Failure to secure an adequate agreement would also have very serious repercussions for the very large numbers of EU citizens living in the UK and for UK citizens resident in EU countries.  At present, these people continue to have full rights as underwritten by the Court of Justice of the European Union. But as the Public Law Project pointed out in February, it is by no means clear what the situation for them would be in the event of an end to the transition period on 31 December – particularly if no comprehensive agreement has been reached with the EU. This situation is causing great stress and anxiety, not least among the many EU citizens in the UK who are currently proving so vital as key workers in the NHS, in care homes and in many other roles.

We were pleased to see that you raised the need to extend the transition period in your first interview as Labour leader, but are concerned that since then this issue appears to have been largely eclipsed by the coronavirus crisis. And, as you will know, the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement stipulate that the UK–EU Joint Committee must sign off any extension before 1 July. Missing this window would make it very difficult for any extension to be agreed. We are now in mid-May, so this could hardly be more urgent.

We hope that you will lose no time in working with other parties in Parliament to put all possible pressure on the government to request an extension. The jobs and wellbeing of so many people depend on this, and – at this of all times – the UK cannot afford to see more self-inflicted and unnecessary harm inflicted on its citizens and those of our EU neighbours.

Yours sincerely,

Emmanuelle Brook, Chair, Cornwall for Europe
Brenda Ashton, Chair, Liverpool for Europe
Kath England and Joe White, Co-chairs, Manchester For Europe
Martin Brooks, Chair, York For Europe
Richard Newcombe, Chair, London4Europe
Alex Pilkington, Chair, Devon for Europe
Joanne Risley, Chair, Weaver for Europe
Peter Burke, Chair, Oxford for Europe
Sue Wilson, Chair, Bremain in Spain
Caroline Kuipers, Open Britain Berkshire
Matt Hodgson, Banbury for Europe
Helen Holdsworth, co-chair, We Are For Europe
Philip Cole, Chair, Cheltenham for Europe
Wiebke Rueterjans, group lead, Merseyside for Europe
Adrian Betteridge, Chair, Berkshire for Europe
Jules Cavalier, Chair, Dorset for Europe
Kathryn Fox, Coordinator, European Movement Mendip
Nicholas Kerr, Executive committee, European Movement Mid Kent
John Gaskell, Chair, EM SW Surrey branch
George Longstaff, European Movement national council member for West Midlands
Harriet Pahl, Chair, Ledbury For Europe
Judy Mason, Acting Chair, Stratford4Europe
Tom Pratt, Convener, EU in Brum Elena Remigi and Veronique Martin, Founders, In Limbo Project
Caroline Anderson, Chair, Eddisbury For Europe
Prof Emmy van Deurzen, Chair, Voices for Europe
Debbie Williams, Founder, Brexpats Hear Our Voice
Clive Hillman, Co-chair, Southampton for Europe
Christine James, Secretary, Enfield For Europe
Paul Adams, Chair, Somerset Loves Europe
Philip Gough, Suffolk EU Alliance
Richard Cleaver, Group Facilitator, Stamford For Europe
Virginie Ganivet, Chair, Ely For Europe and South East Cambs For Europe
Michelle Duhig, Events Coordinator, Chippenham4EU
Maria Klos, Secretary, Croydon For Europe
Alan White, Chair, Streatham for Europe
Sarah Patey, Secretary, Norfolk For Europe
Rebecca Ireland, Greenwich for Europe
Louise Brown, Co-founder, North East for Europe
Simon Jones, Chair, Flintshire For Europe
Friederike Brezig, Edinburgh4Europe
Jonathan Harris, Branch Chair, East Kent European Movement
Andrew Brown, Secretary, People’s Vote Coventry/Coventry4Europe
Ginny Smith, Chair, Eunity Seahaven
Morag Williamson, Convenor, Yes for EU (Scotland)
David Rowen, Chair, European Movement Portsmouth and Chichester Branch
Pat Maguire, Chair, Hull and East Yorkshire for Europe
Simon Ferrigno, Chair, European Movement Derbyshire
Petra Kopp, Secretary, Brighton & Hove for EU
Paul Browne, Chair, Cambridge for Europe
Duncan Hodgkins, Spokesperson, Veterans for Europe
Philip Nield, Secretary, Northamptonshire for Europe
Diane Holden, South Bucks for Europe
David Nickerson, Chair, Esher and Walton Branch European Movement
Jon Moore, Chair, Lancaster for Europe European Movement
Judith King, Organiser, EU in Walsall
Peter Corr, UKRejoinTheEU.co.uk
John Maguire, Chair, Watford for Europe
Barbara Callender, Chairperson, European Movement Wandsworth & Merton
Carole Luck, Secretary, Welwyn Hatfield for Europe
Ruth St John, Treasurer, Tunbridge Wells IN
Patrick Reynolds, Sevenoaks Swanley and Tonbridge in Europe
Molly Williams, Naomi Holdaway, Jay Whatson, Ellie Sellwood, Andrea Carlo Martinez, Chaired by consensus, Young European Voices
Rosie Price, Chair, Kirklees for Europe
Jennifer Monahan, West London Grassroots for Europe
Alex Goulds, Chair, Bromley for Europe
Janet Hardy-Gould, Chair, EUnity Lewes
Jon Ainge, Representing, British in Hungary
Richard Jones, Chair, Herefordshire for Europe
Noel McGlinchey, Chair, Chester for Europe
Gareth Steel, Co-chair, Lewisham East for Europe
Andrew Black, British in Estonia
Paul Williams, Vice-chair, Hampshire European Movement
Emma Woodford, Brexit and the Belgian Brits (BABBS)
Ian Morris, Chair, Canterbury for Europe
Paul Sims, British in Poland
Katherine Baker, Maidenhead for EU
John Bland, Chair, Lincolnshire European Movement
Heike Stopper, Acting Chair, Vale of Glamorgan for Europe
James Catmur, Lead – Floreat Aula, St Neots and Huntingdon for Europe
Clare Scanlan, Glasgow Loves EU
Jane Golding and Fiona Godfrey, Co-chairs, British in Europe (and coalition groups across the EU)
Penelope Phillips McIntyre, Committee member, British in Italy
Sarah Parkes, Tricia Tarrant and Adam Cohen, British in the Netherlands
Neal Whatson, British in Romania
Jack Dart and James Dart, Co-founders, Staying in the EU is Best for Britain
Jack Dart and James Dart, Co-founders, Inspire EU
Stephen Cole, British in Finland
Katherine Ogden and Yvonne Flavin, British in Switzerland
David Milstead, British in Sweden
Helen Springall, British in Denmark
Roger Boaden, ECREU (Expat Citizens Rights in the EU)
Kalba Meadows and Kathryn Dobson, France Rights, British in Europe France
Joseph Dodds and Chris Gardiner, British in the Czech Republic
Tig James and Rory Stewart, British in Portugal
Peter Corkill, Chair, Warwick District 4 Europe
Bob Wilkin, Chair, Bedfordshire for Europe
Victoria Lee, Stirling4Europe
Tim Lund, Lewisham West & Penge in Europe
Wayne Childs, Group leader, Open Britain Abingdon
Rob Evans & Charles Smith, Chairs, Bridgend for Europe
Kate Freeman, Chair, Devizes for EU
Emma Knaggs, Chair, Bath for Europe
Steve Bray, Founder, SODEM (Stand of Defiance European Movement)