Government finally admits next round of Brexit talks could be shelved over coronavirus
- Credit: Archant
The government has finally admitted the next round of talks between the UK and EU over Brexit could be shelved due to the spread of coronavirus.
Appearing in front of a House of Commons committee, minister Michael Gove admitted it was an on-going concern, but said he remained optimistic progress could still be made by June.
He said: 'It is a live question ... We have had indications today from Belgium that there may be specific public health concerns.'
But the minister refused to commit to extending the time period allocated for trade talks.
He continued: 'We are in a position of having left, the question is now whether we have an Australian-style or a Canada-style relationship with the EU, and that will depend on what the EU's response is.
You may also want to watch:
'But we've left, the prime minister has been very clear that we are not going to extend the transition period.
'The course is set and I think it would be foolish for anyone to imagine that the prime minister is not going to stick to that timetable.
- 1 European parliament agrees to add British overseas territories to post-Brexit tax haven blacklist
- 2 Pro-Brexit fishing campaigner says Boris Johnson's deal has left her with 'no fish'
- 3 Minister terminates interview after suggesting public's age and weight to blame for UK's high death toll
- 4 This picture of Boris Johnson on the phone to Joe Biden has caused a stir
- 5 Telegraph columnist blames Angela Merkel for Brexit
- 6 Boris Johnson to visit Scotland this week in attempt to shore up the union
- 7 Brexiteer calls for UK to save Eurostar - by buying it and renaming it 'Britstar'
- 8 Petition launched to cancel 'festival of Brexit' event in 2022
- 9 Brussels to launch campaign teaching younger Britons about the EU
- 10 Tory minister admits UK rejected EU's music visa offer in order to 'take back control' of borders
'I think people underestimate that at their peril.'
A spokesman for the European Commission said that the second round of talks were still scheduled to go ahead, but privately officials admit this could change.
Anti-Brexit campaigners said it was now time for the government to reconsider its arbitrary deadlines over talks before the end of the transition period in January.
Best for Britain chief executive Naomi Smith said: 'The twin challenges of Brexit and coronavirus are a double whammy that will restrict our economy in the short- and medium-term.
'Our economy is resilient enough to handle one of these shocks, but it cannot cope with two simultaneously. And frankly, it doesn't need to.
'The chancellor has already had to change some of his budget plans, so the government could also think afresh about whether it would be sensible to stick so rigidly to its arbitrary deadline for talks in light of the to unprecedented health crisis our country currently faces.'
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.