RESOURCES could be diverted away from the Scottish Government’s efforts to suppress the spread of Covid-19 if emergency preparations are needed in anticipation of a no-deal Brexit, Nicola Sturgeon has warned – as she pleaded with the UK Government to “think again” on refusing to extend the deadline for key talks. 

Without an extension to talks between Westminster and EU negotiators, the UK could be forced into default World Trade Organisation Rules when dealing with Brussels from the start of next year. 

Westminster officials have stressed that Brussels must recognise that Britain will not sign up to its "unprecedented" and “unbalanced” demands as part of the hoped-for post-Brexit trade deal.

The UK Government has until July to apply for an extension, but has stressed it is unwilling to do so, with Ms Sturgeon saying a refusal to change its position would be "deeply irresponsible and reckless". 

She said: "If you take the Scottish Government, we are, as I think absolutely everybody would expect, focused on dealing with the coronavirus crisis. 

READ MORE: UK Government warns Brussels to remove 'unbalanced' demands or face losing post-Brexit trade deal

"But if there is no extension request we are going to have divert resources from that to thinking about and starting to prepare for the consequences again of a no-deal Brexit. 

"I would just appeal to common sense, does anybody seriously think right now that that is a sensible thing to be doing? I don't and I hope the UK Government comes to its senses." 

The First Minister criticised the UK Government for “ploughing ahead” with Brexit plans she claimed have a "very high risk potential of effectively a no-deal Brexit at the end of this year, regardless of everything else we're dealing with just now". 

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If the UK has to undergo what would effectively be a no-deal Brexit at the end of December, after businesses across the country have been shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic, she argued this would "make an already acutely difficult situation economically much, much worse". 

She called on the UK Government to do what most people "would probably think is sensible in the midst of a global health crisis that has also become an economic crisis", saying this was "not to compound and exacerbate that and seek the extension to the transition period".

READ MORE: Senior MEP warns social distancing hampering Brexit talks as fisheries 'disagreements' remain

 The First Minister added: "Whether or not the UK Government is going to so, that you would have to ask them. They certainly appear to be pretty resolute in their refusal to do that, but I hope common sense prevails."