can’t-rule-out-delay-to-brexit-talks-due-to-coronavirus,-eu-ambassador-to-uk-says

Can’t rule out delay to Brexit talks due to coronavirus, EU ambassador to UK says

The coronavirus outbreak could hamper a trade deal between the UK and the EU

Can’t rule out delay to Brexit talks due to coronavirus, EU ambassador to UK says

Second round of negotiations set to begin in London next week.

By

3/11/20, 11:20 AM CET

Updated 3/11/20, 11:21 AM CET

A delay to the Brexit trade talks between the EU and U.K. because of the coronavirus outbreak cannot be ruled out, the EU ambassador to the U.K. said Wednesday.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program if the epidemic might affect the timing or the substance of the deal, João Vale de Almeida said: “I don’t think we can exclude anything at this point in time, given the magnitude of this crisis.”

However, neither side has so far officially hinted at postponing the negotiations — the next round is set to begin next Wednesday in London.

A Downing Street spokesperson told journalists Tuesday that there are no plans to delay discussions, adding that “both sides are very well aware of the timetable they are working to.” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to extend the Brexit transition period to agree on a deal beyond the end of the year. London has also said that if there is not enough progress by the summer, it could walk away from talks to focus on no-deal exit planning.

The ambassador added that Michael Gove, the head of the U.K. Cabinet Office who is overseeing the withdrawal process, will be meeting with European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič “very soon,” as part of the so-called Joint Committee supervising the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

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