Brexit: face-to-face talks to resume as Barnier comes out of quarantine

Photo by: UK Prime Minister | Creative Commons

Face-to-face Brexit trade talks will resume this weekend in London, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said.

Mr Barnier had to self-isolate after a colleague tested positive for Covid last week, suspending all in-person negotiations.

However, Micheal Barnier warned ahead of a meeting that “the same significant divergencies persist” in negotiations.

Boris Johnson insisted the likelihood of a deal depended on the EU.

Speaking on Friday, ahead of the talks resuming, the Prime Minister told reporters that “there is a deal there to be done if they want it.”

But he added: “substantial and important differences” remained between the two sides, with just over a month left to finalise an agreement.

Negotiators are in a rush to form a deal to govern their trading relationship once the UK’s post-Brexit transition period ends in January 2021.

In-person negotiations in Brussels were suspended a week ago after a member of Mr Barnier’s team contracted coronavirus.

Photo by: @callmefred | Unsplash

The Frenchman is briefing EU member states ahead of talks with his UK counterpart, Lord Frost as areas such as fishing rights remain a hurdle to a deal before the Brexit transition period expires at the end of next month.

Mr Barnier said he would travel to London on Friday evening, after briefing EU ambassadors and members of the European Parliament on talks.

He also tweeted on Friday: “In line with Belgian rules, my team and I are no longer in quarantine. Physical negotiations can continue.”

On Thursday, there was concern over the in-person talks – with earlier reports suggesting Mr Barnier would not travel to London unless the UK changed its negotiating stance.

After the positive Covid-19 test in a member of Mr Barnier’s team, Negotiations have been continuing via video link for the past week.


Words: Dina Nazari | Subbing: Grace Staley



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