A new opinion poll has found that two-thirds of the public support an extension to the transition period – with most preferring a longer extension until the coronavirus crisis has been resolved.
The Focaldata poll was commissioned by cross-party campaign group Best for Britain and HOPE not hate, ahead of the first of three newly scheduled negotiating rounds between the UK and the EU.
The survey of over 2,000 people found that 66 per cent of the public believe the UK government ‘should focus 100% of its energy on dealing with coronavirus for the rest of the year’, including nearly half of Conservative and Leave voters.
Of those who support an extension, 64 per cent want the transition period to be extended ‘indefinitely until the crisis is resolved’.
The call for an extension to the transition period has been made by numerous bodies and pressure groups, including the Scottish and Welsh Governments. In an interview with the BBC this week, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said it would be “wise” not to add to the “unprecedented uncertainty” arising from the pandemic.
Despite this, Downing Street announced on Thursday that it would neither request an extension to the transition period nor accept any such request from the EU.
Public opinion in favour of longer extension
Best for Britain have been testing public opinion on an extension of the transition period since the coronavirus outbreak began.
Our new poll, commissioned alongside our partners at HOPE not hate, finds that the general public overwhelmingly support extending the transition period.
Two-thirds of respondents said they thought the government ‘should focus 100% of its energy on dealing with Coronavirus for the rest of the year’, whereas only a third (34%) thought the UK government could ‘balance dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak whilst also giving necessary time to negotiate a full trade deal with the EU before the end of the year.’ There was agreement among all age groups and UK regions.
Of those who supported an extension, 64 per cent wanted the transition period to be extended ‘indefinitely until the crisis is resolved’, whereas 36 per cent wanted the transition period to be extended ‘for a maximum of a year.’
Small ‘c’ conservatives want UK Government to focus on coronavirus
While some have speculated that the government’s position on extension owes to a fear it will be punished for failing to deliver on its manifesto pledge not to delay Brexit, our data suggests this is not the case.
With some high-profile Brexit supporters conceding the need for an extension, our data indicates that the government has support for extending the transition period among small ‘c’ conservative voters.
- 48% of Conservative voters
- 45% of Brexit Party voters
- 49% of Leave voters
Of those who supported an extension there was strong support for a longer extension:
- 44% of Conservative voters
- 27% of Brexit Party voters
- 43% of Leave voters
The data for the poll can be downloaded here.
Conducted by Focaldata, polling 2,032 UK adults, fieldwork was completed between 7-9 April 2020.