Conservatives Global, June 14, Matthew Walsh
Confirmation on Friday that the Government had formally told the EU that it would not extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020 was very welcome news.
It has been a long time coming. Four and a half years after voting for Brexit, it finally looks like the nation can take advantage of the economic benefits leaving the EU offers, as we fight to overturn the economic crisis thrust on us by the coronavirus.
The Boris Johnson administration has undeniably been far more reliable on Brexit than the chaotic flip-flopping we witnessed under the May Government. Boris and senior ministers have consistently said that Britain would not extend the transition period and the statement by Cabinet minister Michael Gove at the end of last week solidifies this.
Politically, it was a very sensible move. In a Savanta ComRes poll last month, 44 per cent of voters said the transition period should remain as arranged or shortened, compared to 40 per cent who wanted an extension. So leaving at the end of the year is popular across the country.
But what about the former Labour-held Red Wall seats in the Midlands and the North that were absolutely vital to the Tories’ December 2019 election victory and will determine whether the Tories will win re-election? Tory strategists will be looking very carefully at what makes these voters tick.
Brexit delivered on time is crucially important to these voters, as polling commissioned by the Centre for Brexit Policy demonstrated at the weekend. The poll, also conducted by Savanta ComRes, showed a clear majority of voters in the Red Wall seats – 51 per cent to 42 per cent – were opposed to an extension of the transition period. So the Government, while coming in for widespread criticism for its approach to the coronavirus crisis as well as its rather limp response to the ongoing culture war, is at least getting its Brexit strategy right.
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