ALMOST four in five Scots want the UK Government to extend Brexit negotiations with Brussels in light of the coronavirus crisis.

The deadline in law for moving to a new trade relationship with Europe is the end of the year.

Any extension into 2021 requires Boris Johnson to request it by July.

However, despite public life being put on hold amid the pandemic, he has so far declined to discuss a longer transition period.

The new Focaldata poll found 64 per cent of people across Britain wanted the UK Government to request an extension rather than crash out of Europe on WTO terms.

Only 36% wanted the Brexit transition period to end on 31 December whether a deal had been fixed or not.

In Scotland, it was 78% in favour of an extension, the highest on any part of the country.

The survey was commissioned by the cross-party campaign group Best for Britain and HOPE not hate.

UK support for an extension was highest among Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters, although 44% of Tory and 19% of Brexit party supporters also endorsed it.

An extension was supported by more than 50% of people across all age groups, with 18-24 year olds the most supportive (78%) and 65+ year olds the least supportive (52%).

The same poll also found 65% of Brits and 80% of Scots want the UK Government to seek membership of the EU Early Warning and Response System for medical emergencies.

The EWRS was set up in 1998 to ‘allow exchange of information on risk assessment and risk management for more timely, efficient and coordinated public health action’.

The Sunday Times also reported officials in London and Brussels saying there was “zero” prospect of striking a trade deal on the original timetable because of the pandemic.

The 11-month deadline was already seen as hugely ambitious given other deals have taken years.

Best for Britain CEO Naomi Smith said: “It’s simply not reasonable to expect we will have tied up negotiations with the EU by the end of the year while dealing with a warlike emergency. Nor is it desirable.

“By thinking it can complete both challenges at once, the UK Government would be setting itself up for failure with profound economic consequences.

“Most people just want the government to get on with the job at hand so that lives can be saved and normality restored as quickly as possible.

“This is particularly the case in Scotland, where nearly four-fifths of people support an extension, which has also been called for by the Scottish Government.

“The country is simply not in a place to weather two storms at the moment.”

HOPE not hate CEO Nick Lowles said: “EU schemes like the Early Warning and Response System and the ventilator procurement programme are critical tools for responding to this urgent public health crisis.

“Healthcare workers are doing a fantastic job, but they cannot fight this disease alone. They need all the help they can get.

“The Government must put politics aside and urgently seek participation in these schemes. It would be foolhardy for ideology to get in the way of practical measures to keep people safe.”

SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford said: “The Covid-19 outbreak has gripped us all – regardless of politics or borders – and it is vital that governments here in the UK and abroad work collaboratively to combat the pandemic.

“Businesses, individuals and households across the UK are already under intense pressure and financial strain in dealing with the crisis – with many losing their incomes and a significant number of businesses facing an uncertain future.

“It is impossible for businesses and others to prepare for life outside the EU while coping with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis at the same time, and many might struggle to survive the second blow of a hard Brexit at the end of this year.

“Continuing talks and hurtling towards the transition period deadline would be irresponsible and an act of economic and social self-harm.

“It is now vital that the UK government hits pause on all Brexit negotiations and immediately seeks an extension to the transition period to remove the uncertainty and instability.

“The SNP Scottish Government made the difficult but responsible decision to pause work on preparing for an independence referendum this year. The UK government must now mirror that step so that we can focus on protecting our citizens and delivering financial support to everyone in society.”

Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray said: “It is simply impossible to secure a Brexit deal that protects businesses and workers before the end of the year. This is not a time for constitutional politics. This is a time for working together, both within the UK and with the EU.

“The UK Government needs to formally apply for an extension to the transition period so that all focus remains on addressing the coronavirus outbreak.”