Ten days away from the end of the year, and the looming date of 1 January, the British government still can’t negotiate a deal with its most important commercial, political and trading partner, the European Union.
As the numbers of Covid cases grow every day in the country, what could bring more panic to British people? Indeed, a few days ago, a new opinion poll showed that two-thirds of Brits want the government to reach a trade deal with the EU.
This poll was conducted by YouGov on behalf of the group known as Best for Britain, which has done remarkable work to inform British people on the consequences of Brexit since 2016. The poll interrogated 1,703 people between 10 and 11 December 2020.
The results show that the country overwhelmingly supports ending the Brexit transition period with a trade deal. We now have less than two weeks to do so. 66% of those polled supported leaving with a deal, compared to just 15% who said they would prefer a no-deal outcome. The poll found that even Conservative voters prefer a trade deal to a no-deal outcome by a ratio of 2 to 1.
This also clearly shows that every region in the UK came out in favour of a EU trade deal by the end of this year. London and the North of England were the regions with the highest levels of support for a deal, at 73% and 68% respectively, followed by Scotland and the rest of the South of England.
Deal or no deal?
With just a few days to go before the end of the transition period, Best for Britain CEO Naomi Smith said the findings show that:
“The Prime Minister has no mandate for a no-deal Brexit. A year ago he won the election on a promise of delivering an ‘oven-ready’ trade agreement with the EU. He told voters the chance of no-deal was ‘a million to one’. Failing to deliver on those promises just a year down the line, while the country is in the middle of the most painful economic recession in recent memory, would be a betrayal of all those voters who supported the Prime Minister at the last election and, in his own words, a failure of statesmanship.”
Best for Britain is a non-partisan group campaigning for a UK-EU trade deal. I have had the pleasure to meet their CEO Naomi Smith while invited on a couple of episode of a podcast about Brexit issues. These podcasts were called “Remaniacs” but are now “Oh God What Now”. I’ve followed Naomi’s amazing work since and Best for Britain is one of the organisations we can trust the most on this issue.
With the passage of the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, Best for Britain believe the UK must now focus on securing the trade deal promised in the Conservative Party manifesto, delivering for business and communities across the country. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, they also worry about the impact of leaving the Single Market and Customs Union when the transition period ends on 31st December 2020.
I personally believe Brexit should be “frozen” until the pandemic is over. No one, even the most determined supporters of Brexit, voted for such suffering and uncertainty.
Last week, the EU announced that British citizens would not be allowed to travel to the EU member-states after 1 January as long as the threat of the pandemic is ongoing. Since Saturday (19 December), the traffic between Calais and Dover has become extremely difficult. This Sunday (20 December), the Netherlands announced they are banning British citizens from entering their country with immediate effect.
Here in Bristol, where the Europhile sentiment is quite high and the organisation “The 3 Million” was founded to support the Euro-citizens, I see many people expressing their anxiety on social media on a daily basis.
If Boris Johnson’s government ends up not signing a deal in the coming days, the British public now knows he is able to deliberately go against their will.
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