Coronavirus Could Postpone EU-UK Trade Talks, Says Michael Gove

Cabinet minister says it is "a live question" whether the next round of negotiations can go ahead.

The coronavirus crisis could delay trade talks between the UK and EU, Michael Gove has said.

The cabinet minister said it was a “live question” whether the next stage of negotiations would go ahead due to the “specific health concern”.

Boris Johnson, his EU adviser David Frost, and others are due to meet Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier and top ministers on March 30.

It could increase pressure on prime minister Boris Johnson to extend the transition period, which is due to end in December, to avoid a no-deal crash-out.

Giving evidence to a parliamentary committee, Gove, who is the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, admitted there may be no option but to delay the next phase of talks.

He said: “It’s a live question.

“We were looking forward to the joint committee meeting in the UK on the 30th of this month and we were also looking forward to the next stage of the negotiations going ahead.

 Michael Gove arrives at Downing Street
Michael Gove arrives at Downing Street

“But we have had indications today from Belgium that there may be a specific health concern.”

Numerous figures have cast doubt over whether the future relationship between Brussels and London can be finalised over the next eight months.

Several key differences between the two sides remain, with the EU insisting on a level playing field on regulations and standards and the UK wanting to diverge.

It comes as a total of 383 people in the UK had tested positive for coronavirus while six people – all with underlying health conditions – died after contracting it.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that health minister Nadine Dorries was among those who had fallen ill. She is recovering at home.


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