Top level Brexit talks suspended after EU negotiator tests positive for Covid-19

19 November 2020, 15:02 | Updated: 19 November 2020, 16:44

The UK's David Frost (left) and EU's Michel Barnier (right) have agreed to temporarily halt Brexit talks
The UK's David Frost (left) and EU's Michel Barnier (right) have agreed to temporarily halt Brexit talks. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Brexit talks between the EU and UK's top teams have been suspended after one of the negotiators tested positive for Covid-19.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier confirmed the news on Thursday afternoon, tweeting: "One of the negotiators in my team has tested positive for COVID-19.

"With [David Frost] we have decided to suspend the negotiations at our level for a short period. The teams will continue their work in full respect of guidelines."

Read more: Clock ticks as Brexit trade deal talks resume

It is not yet known who the Covid-positive negotiator is.

It comes at a bad time for both sides, who have been meeting in Brussels this week, as talks go to the wire in the final weeks before the transition period ends on January 1.

"I am in close contact with [Michel Barnier] about the situation," Mr Frost said.

"The health of our teams comes first. I would like to thank the [EU Commission] for their immediate help and support."

It is unknown whether the UK will be able to secure a Brexit agreement by the end of the year, but ministers are hopeful to strike a deal the the coming weeks.

The two sides are currently at loggerheads over controversial issues such as fishing and state aid.

Read more: Ireland says UK-EU trade deal 'won't be ratified' if Brexit bill remains unchanged

The EU wants the UK to follow its rule if a trading relationship is to be maintained, but the UK insists it should have access to EU markets and play by its own rules.