The Covid-19 pandemic has been frontpage news for nearly all of 2020 as the virus itself and its effects have spread globally and across the UK.
Daily, we have watched the UK Government detail the latest news and strategy and what domestic policy will be put in place to help boost recovery and slow the outbreak.
Only around one in ten (13%) MPs agree that different Governments around the globe have worked well together
Using the Savanta ComRes parliamentary panel, we asked MPs what they thought on how well the EU and global responses had been in dealing with the pandemic, as well as whether they thought an extension on the trade agreement deadline with the EU should be sought.
The majority of MPs do not believe that the international community has worked well together in coordinating an effective global response to the pandemic
While perhaps the focus has been on how individual countries have dealt with the pandemic within their own borders, MPs across the board, no matter their party, region or length of service, do not believe that Governments of different countries have worked well together in coordinating an effective global response to Covid-19. Only around one in ten (13%) agree that different Governments around the globe have worked well together, whereas three in five (57%) disagreed. Interestingly, three in ten MPs (30%) remained neutral, neither agreeing nor disagreeing, which is unusual as MPs largely have a view either way, no matter the topic.
MPs are not confident in the EU’s response to the pandemic
When asked specifically about the EU response, a minority of MPs (21%) say they are confident that the EU will provide an effective united economic response to the pandemic, while half (52%) disagree that an effective economic response will be provided. Here we do see some differences by party: while only 6% of Conservative MPs are confident that the EU will provide an effective economic response, this is higher among Labour MPs at 36% and SNP MPs at 64%.
The House is split on whether the UK should have sought an extension for a trade agreement with the EU
Brexit; the word that has dominated our news since the Summer of 2016. That was until the global pandemic hit. But just because Brexit is not in the headlines as often doesn’t mean it is not a key issue the UK still faces.
While the deadline for seeking an extension to the final trade agreement may now have passed, MPs are split down party lines on whether the UK should seek an extension. Two in five MPs (43%) say an extension should have been sought on a final trade agreement with the EU to soften the economic impact of Covid-19, while almost the same proportion (44%) disagreed.
But the party stance on this issue largely dictates how MPs responded to this: fewer than one in ten (8%) of Conservative MPs believe an extension should have been sought, compared to nine in ten Labour MPs (93%) and SNP MPs (91%).
While there may be consensus across parties on the perceived lack of success in the global and EU response to the Covid-19 pandemic, MPs are still divided on Brexit. With the absence of an extension, agreeing the details of the trade agreement will become a priority as the country emerges from the lockdown restrictions. While the Covid-19 pandemic may continue to take centre stage in the news, thrashing out the finer points of the EU trade agreement will no doubt become increasingly important on both sides of the House of Commons.
Savanta ComRes runs an industry-leading suite of parliamentary panels, helping clients to understand parliamentarians’ perceptions of their organisation, sector, communications and policy positions.