UK’s Brexit negotiator self-isolates after displaying coronavirus symptoms

PUBLISHED: 14:43 20 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:44 20 March 2020

Brexit negotiator David Frost. Photograph: Number10Gov/Flickr.

Brexit negotiator David Frost. Photograph: Number10Gov/Flickr.

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Boris Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator has followed his EU counterpart into self-isolation after showing symptoms of the coronavirus.

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David Frost has not tested positive for Covid-19 but is instead following instructions to steer clear of others at home after exhibiting “mild” symptoms, Number 10 said.

His entry into self-isolation comes after EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier tested positive for the coronavirus as the two sides try to broker an ambitious trade deal.

But, despite the pandemic derailing face-to-face negotiations, the prime minister’s official spokesman said talks with the bloc are expected to continue next week.

“David has been showing mild symptoms so he is following the guidance to self-isolate,” he said.

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“We remain in contact with the European Commission and expect further conversations between the teams next week.”

The spokesman said the “same protocol as has always been followed” is under way when asked if contact tracing is being carried out and whether Frost had been with the PM.

Johnson has been insisting he will not ask for a delay to the transition period, due to expire at the end of the year, despite the crisis gripping much of the world.

Fresh uncertainty had already hit the talks when Barnier said that he had tested positive, though he said he was “doing well and in good spirits”.

A second round of talks had been due to take place in London on Wednesday but they were scrapped because of the virus outbreak.

Discussions have been taking place between officials in Westminster and Brussels about how to proceed with future rounds, possibly through the use of video conference technology.

Before Barnier’s statement, the PM insisted he would not ask for an extension past December 31 despite the chaos.

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