Mon, 20 May 2024

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Next round of Brexit trade talks cancelled due to worsening coronavirus outbreak

2 min read

The next round of Brexit trade talks has been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Around 200 negotiators had been due to sit down for face-to-face discussions in London on Monday.

But as the numbers struck down by Covid-19 continues to rise across the world, the decision was taken to postpone the talks.

It is also unclear whether they will still be able to go ahead via videolink.

In a joint-statement, both sides said: "Given the latest Covid-19 developments, UK and EU negotiators have today jointly decided not to hold next week’s round of negotiations in London, in the form originally scheduled.

"Both sides are currently exploring alternative ways to continue discussions, including if possible the use of video conferences."

The first round of talks took place in Brussels two weeks ago.

But Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove raised the possibility that Monday's get-together may not go ahead when he appeared before a Commons committee on Wednesday.

He said: "It’s a live question. We were looking forward to a joint committee in the UK on the 30th and we were also looking forward to the next stage of negotiations going ahead, but we have had indications today from Belgium there may be specific public health concerns."

The postponement is likely lead to fresh calls for the Brexit transition period, which is due to end on 31 December, to be extended, given there is no end in sight to the coronavirus crisis.

But Downing Street has insisted that Boris Johnson will not make such a request, ensuring the UK stops following all EU rules from 2021.

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