Great Britain

Boris Johnson under pressure to extend Brexit transition period due to coronavirus crisis

BORIS Johnson faces new pressure to seek an extension to the Brexit transition period due to the coronavirus crisis.

The PM has insisted he will not ask for a delay to the December 31 deadline but Euro MPs warn agreeing a deal in time is all-but impossible.

Luxembourg MEP Christophe Hansen said without a delay Britain would “expose itself to the double whammy of coronavirus and the exit from the EU single market, which will inevitably add to the disruption, deal or no deal”.

He said: “I can only hope common sense and substance will prevail.”

The PM had previously been adamant that it would be possible to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement by the deadline.

The warning comes as the EU-UK joint committee set up to implement the Withdrawal Agreement was set to meet for the first time.

Because of the outbreak, the talks will take place by video conference, with the British side led by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and the EU by European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic.

Mr Johnson tested positive for coronavirus last Friday.

The PM, 55, was tested after experiencing mild symptoms of a cough and fever and must remain in self-isolation in his No11 flat for at least seven days.

He was believed to be the first world leader to get the virus.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier, 69, has also contracted the virus, with speculation that he was "patient zero" that brought Covid-19 to No10.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator announced he was infected on March 19, just one day before his British counterpart David Frost also began self-isolating.

Mr Barnier and Mr Frost had held talks on March 5 in Brussels, with both getting sick within the 14-day incubation period.

German MEP David McAllister, who chairs the UK co-ordination group in the parliament, said now was the time for the UK to change tack over an extension to the transition.
"The coronavirus pandemic complicates the already very ambitious schedule," he said.
"The EU has always been open to extending the transition period. The ball is now clearly in the British court.


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Boris Johnson confirms he has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating

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