Michael Gove to chair Brexit talks despite UK and continent on lockdown
- Credit: PA
Brexit talks are set to continue next week despite the UK and continent being on lockdown.
Downing Street has confirmed Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove will co-chair discussions via video conference as the two sides look at implementing what is in the Withdrawal Agreement once the transition period ends, which is due to close on December 31.
Monday's UK-EU joint committee is separate to the trade talks, which the Guardian reported was considered to be 'in the deep freeze' due to Europe's battle against Covid-19.
Draft legal texts were exchanged on March 18, with the UK proposing a free trade agreement and other mini-deals on aviation safety, air transport and civil nuclear industries as its basis for negotiation, but government attention has turned to dealing with coronavirus in past weeks rather than Brexit.
Downing Street has continued to insist that the government will not request to put back the end-of-the-year deadline for a trade deal to be reached.
You may also want to watch:
The prime minister's official spokesman, when asked about a possible extension to the transition period, told reporters on Friday: 'In terms of the timetable, there is no change from our point of view.'
He said the meeting next week would 'oversee the implementation, application and interpretation of the Withdrawal Agreement and will seek to resolve any issues that may arise from it'.
- 1 Boris Johnson 'plans to resign' in six months because he can't live on £150k salary
- 2 Remainers blamed for Boris Johnson's inability to secure Brexit deal
- 3 Leaked government dossier warns of army street patrols if second Covid-19 wave and no-deal Brexit hit UK at same time
- 4 Government told to publish impact assessments for Boris Johnson's 'Narnia' deal with EU
- 5 Brexiteer admits 'Australia-style deal' term designed to 'pull wool over voters' eyes'
- 6 Betty Boothroyd delivers scathing assessment of Boris Johnson's government
- 7 Nicola Sturgeon, Jacinda Adern and Angela Merkel in top 5 of world’s most eloquent leaders
- 8 Minister finally concedes 'Australia-style deal' is a no-deal Brexit
- 9 Michael Gove challenged over remarks UK 'holds all the cards' in Brexit talks
- 10 Boris Johnson told to apologise for incompetence in delivering his 'oven-ready' Brexit deal
'The meeting will happen remotely instead of in-person given the developments of coronavirus, and so we are considering alternative ways to host it, such as conference calls,' said the No 10 spokesman.
'The UK delegation will include the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Paymaster General Penny Mordaunt.'
Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats' acting leader, said the government was 'incredibly irresponsible' with its decision to press on with the Brexit talks, despite chief negotiators in Westminster and Brussels respectively having contracted coronavirus.
'The coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat, to the nation's health and the nation's economy.
'The government's priority must be focusing on tackling the threat and protecting the most vulnerable in our society.
'It is incredibly irresponsible to press on with Brexit talks and not to extend the deadline for the transition period, especially with the chief negotiators on each side now diagnosed with coronavirus.
'The prime minister should be work more closely with our nearest neighbours. The UK should be present at the EU health ministers' daily briefings. That way the government might not have missed signing up to the EU ventilator scheme.'
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.