How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted Brexit – is it still going ahead?

Boris Johnson Brexit comp
Brexit talks have been hampered by coronavirus (Picture:AP/Getty)

 

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every aspect of life across the world, with services, schooling and shops having been disrupted as countries were forced to go into lockdown to stem the spread of the virus.

And the outbreak has also overshadowed one of the bigger news stories of the early part of 2020 – the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The UK formally left the EU on 31 January of this year – before the virus had had an impact on this side of the world – entering a transition period which is due to end on 31 December 2020.

In the wake of the pandemic, is it still going ahead?

Despite the pandemic, the UK’s transition period from the EU is still set to end on 31 December 2020 – officially sealing the deal on Brexit.

And although the government might have reached a deal on the withdrawal agreement, it’s a different story when it comes to reaching a trade deal with the EU nations, as the spectre of ‘no deal’ once again hangs in the ar.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the UK will not be seeking an extension to the transition period in spite of the disruption that coronavirus has caused.

Brexit negotiations
Brexit negotiations have been going on virtually during lockdown (Picture: Reuters)

 

And this has raised fears that the UK could fail to strike a trade deal with the EU member nations before the deadline is up – with their chief negotiator Michel Barnier saying earlier this month that ‘no progress’ had been made – while adding that ‘the door is still open’ for the UK to request an extension.

David Frost, Mr Barnier’s British counterpart, said there had been only ‘limited’ progress made, and conceded that both sides are ‘close to reaching the limits’ of anything achievable by the formal rounds of talks before a potentially make-or-break high-level summit later this month.

However Boris Johnson has been more optimistic, saying that the UK has a ‘good chance’ of securing a deal by the end of the year.

‘I don’t think we’re actually that far apart, but what we need now is to see a bit of oomph in the negotiations,’ he insisted.

The UK has indicated that even if a no deal is reached they may backtrack on plans to introduce full border checks on goods from the EU.

The UK had committed to bringing in import controls on EU goods from January 1, but ministers are now expected to adopt a more flexible approach over fears of the economic impact of coronavirus.

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