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Brexit transition period will not be extended despite coronavirus threat
13 March 2020, 18:14
The Brexit transition period will not be extended despite the coronavirus threatening to disrupt negotiations with the EU, Downing Street has said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stressed that an extension will not be requested and that the nation will leave the bloc at the end of the year regardless of the pandemic outbreak.
This comes as face-to-face negotiations on the future relationship were scheduled to be held in London next week but were cancelled because of Covid-19.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman dismissed the possibility of an extension when asked at a Westminster briefing on Friday, adding: "In UK law, a request for an extension is not possible."
The Withdrawal Agreement that passed Parliament in December included a commitment that ministers will not request any further delay past the transition period that ends on December 31.
As the coronavirus outbreak worsened, the second round talks were cancelled in their planned form and officials were looking at alternative arrangements including videoconferencing.
Meanwhile, the prime minister’s warned on Thursday that many more families would lose loved ones to Covid-19.
He announced the UK had officially moved into the "delay" phase of the government's response to the spread of coronavirus.
The second phase, which seeks to push back the timing that the number of UK cases hits its peak, was introduced after it proved impossible to contain the disease.
In a statement on Thursday, the prime minister introduced a number of measures that included self-isolating for seven days if you show any symptoms of the illness, and to advise the elderly with serious health issues to avoid travelling on cruise ships.