EUROPE’s chief Brexit negotiator has been told there is “significant opposition” to the UK Government’s refusal to consider extending the timetable for talks.

A letter signed by six parties across the UK, including the SNP, is urging Michel Barnier to prioritise the issue in the next round of talks, due to take place on June 1.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford warned “time is running out”, as any extension to the Brexit transition period must be agreed before the end of next month.

He said crashing out with a bad deal or no deal in the middle of the coronavirus crisis would be a “double hammer blow” to the economy.

With the UK having formally quit the European Union, talks are taking place between the UK and EU to determine key areas such as future trading relationships.

But with the transition period due to expire at the end of this year, there are fears the UK may be forced into a no-deal scenario, if an agreement cannot be reached.

There seemed to be little signs of agreeing a future trade deal last week following the latest round of discussions.

UK chief negotiator David Frost said there had been “very little progress” on the most significant outstanding issues.

He said the stumbling blocks included the EU’s insistence on including a set of “novel and unbalanced proposals” over a level playing field on standards and issues over access to UK fishing waters.

However, Barnier said: “Despite its claims, the United Kingdom did not engage in a real discussion on the question of the level playing field – those economic and commercial ‘fair play’ rules that we agreed to, with Boris Johnson, in the Political Declaration.”

The letter to Barnier has also been signed by acting LibDem leader Sir Ed Davey, Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts, Green MP Caroline Lucas, Stephen Farry, MP from the Alliance Party, as well as fellow Northern Ireland MP Colum Eastwood of the Social Democratic and Labour Party.

The opposition leaders, who are jointly calling for a two-year extension to Brexit, highlight concern about the lack of progress on the talks.

The letter states there is “significant opposition to the UK Government’s extreme position amongst the business community, the general public and elected representatives”.

It notes the Scottish and Welsh governments both backed an extension of the transition period, along with “the majority of political parties in the Northern Ireland Executive”. The MPs said: “A consensus is taking shape and we hope the UK Government will soon recognise reality.

Blackford said they had written to Barnier because “time is running out until we hit the hard Brexit deadline”.

He said: “It is vital that the Tory Government does the only responsible thing and accepts a two-year extension to the transition period.

“Crashing out with a bad deal or no deal in the middle of the coronavirus crisis would deal a double hammer blow to the economy just when we will need all the help we can get to save jobs, businesses and living standards.”

But he added: “It increasingly appears the Tory Government is intent on taking Scotland and the UK down the path of a devastating no-deal. That would be beyond reckless.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “We will not ask to extend the transition period, and if the EU asks we will say no.

“Extending the transition period would simply increase uncertainty and prolong the negotiations, whilst also leaving us bound by EU legislation and obliged to make further payments into the EU budget.”