British people have expressed support for an extension to the 31 December deadline with 55 percent backing the decision, 24 percent still opposing, and 21 percent saying "they don't know", according to a new YouGov survey.
More than a third of Leave voters (36 percent) backed a delay, with 44 percent opposed, and 79 percent of Remain voters supported the extension, the poll shows.
Conservative voters were divided on whether to kick back the 31 December deadline, with 44 percent opposed and 39 percent in support. Some 73 percent of Labour voters supported a delay, with only 6 percent opposed. Some 85 percent of Liberal Democrats also backed an extension, according to the poll.
Huge majority in @YouGov poll for extending Brexit transition period. Voters realise what the govt knows but won’t admit: Battling CV-19 is so all-consuming that no-one has time to focus on post-Brexit deal & to let No Deal follow CV-19 economic crash would be criminal stupidity. pic.twitter.com/anrakus1N6— Andrew Cooper (@AndrewCooper__) March 20, 2020
On 19 March, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier announced on social media that he had contracted COVID-19 and was following all necessary instructions from health care professionals. The European Commission president stated that his diagnosis would not affect the course of negotiations, although planned talks scheduled to take place this week were cancelled on 17 March.
At a press conference on 18 March, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that an extension to the transition period was not being considered despite the disruption caused by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.