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Sun, 5 April 2020

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UK’s chief Brexit negotiator self-isolating after showing coronavirus symptoms, Number 10 confirms

UK’s chief Brexit negotiator self-isolating after showing coronavirus symptoms, Number 10 confirms

David Frost with the EU’s Michel Barnier.

2 min read

Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator is in self-isolation after displaying symptoms of the coronavirus, Downing Street has confirmed.

Number 10 said David Frost, who heads up Boris Johnson’s team in Brussels, was following official advice to remove himself from contact in a bid to avoid the spread of Covid-19.

The news comes just days after Michel Barnier, Mr Frost’s EU counterpart, was diagnosed with coronavirus - and casts further doubt on the Government’s insistence Britain will strike a new relationship with the bloc by the end of this year.

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said on Friday: "David has been showing mild symptoms, so he is following the guidance to self-isolate. We remain in contact with the European Commission and expect further conversations between the teams next week."

Mr Frost’s self-isolation follows Thursday’s announcement by Mr Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, that he had tested positive for the virus.

The French politician said he was “doing well and in good spirits”, adding: “For all those affected already, and for all those currently in isolation, we will get through this together.”

It comes after the latest round of negotiations between the two sides - scheduled for this week - was cancelled amid the ongoing global epidemic.

But, despite the delay, the UK Government has insisted that the Brexit transition period will not be extended.

On Wednesday, the UK Government said the UK’s negotiator David Frost and his EU counterpart "will not formally be covening" for the time being.

But they added that both sides "remain fully committed" to ongoing talks.

The UK is set to formally leave the transition period - which keeps it closely aligned with the EU -  on 31 December 2020, with a deal on a future relationship expected to be ratified by November.

An extension to this period has repeatedly been ruled out by Boris Johnson, who said that the issue has been "regularly discussed in Downing Street” but that "there is legislation in place that I have no intention of changing". 

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