Brexit trade talks suspended after European Union official tests positive for Covid

Brexit trade talks suspended after European Union official tests positive for Covid”

Britain's top Brexit negotiator Lord David Frost has privately told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that a so-called "landing zone" - Brussels jargon for a state of negotiations where an agreement is in sight - may appear early next week.

"Our negotiating position remains the take back control of our money, laws and borders", a United Kingdom government spokesman said.

British officials are expected to leave Brussels on Friday following this week's talks and, while talks will continue to take place remotely, the absence of face-to-face talks between Barnier and the UK's chief negotiator, David Frost, on the key outstanding political difference is likely to further delay any agreement.

"With David Frost, we have chose to suspend the negotiations at our level for a short period", he added.

"The teams will continue their work in full respect of guidelines", he said. Barnier tested positive in March and Frost self-isolated that same month after developing coronavirus symptoms.

Three senior European Union diplomats told Reuters that, at the briefing for ambassadors, the Commission stressed that talks were still snagged on the three core issues, but there was now momentum that made them hopeful a deal could be clinched on time. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized in April and is now back in coronavirus quarantine until next Thursday.

More news: India nears nine million coronavirus cases

Three European Commission diplomats who were briefed by the EU president told Reuters that, during the ambassador's convention, the Commission believed talks were in deadlock over three primary issues.

Failure to do so would see EU-UK trade conducted on World Trade Organisation terms.

Britain's transition out of the European Union following Brexit ends on December 31 and quotas and tariffs would hit bilateral trade from 2021, unless the estranged allies overcome their differences and seal a new partnership agreement that would also regulate ties from energy to transport to security. Both sides had hoped to get a trade deal by then to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs and businesses that could suffer if Brexit leads to a sharp end to existing trade relations.

Indeed, Brexit talks going to the wire, as European Union negotiations nearly always do, is such a concern that Britain's Sky News reports that the bloc is already considering ways to ratify a deal even if it is struck at the very last moment.

They are also negotiating how closely the United Kingdom should have to follow the EU's social, labour, and environmental standards after the transition.

An EU diplomat also said the British proposal did not meet the bloc's demand for an independent body from the government.

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