Brexit talks drag on into next week after negotiator struck down with Covid

A deal could be edging closer (Image: PA)

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Brexit talks between the UK and EU will drag on into next week after negotiators were struck down with Covid – despite suggestions a breakthrough is edging closer.

Face-to-face negotiations were temporarily suspended on Thursday after a member of Michel Barnier’s EU negotiating team tested positive for Covid-19.

Downing Street confirmed that talks would continue remotely over the weekend and into the early part of next week with face-to-face negotiations expected to resume once it was considered safe.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ’s official spokesman said the Government still wanted to get an agreement “as quickly or as soon as possible”.

He said talks would continue remotely over the weekend and into the early part of next week with face-to-face negotiations expected to resume once it was considered safe.

“As soon as talks can resume in person they will,” the spokesman said.

A member of EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier's team tested positive for coronavirus
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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But the Mirror understands it could be towards the end of next week for talks to resume in person.

It came as EU chiefs said talks on a post-Brexit trade deal have made “better progress” in recent days.

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said there were still “quite some metres to the finish” but that there had been “more movement” on important issues.

After weeks of difficult negotiations with little sign of movement, Mrs von der Leyen said she was encouraged by the latest round of meetings.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
(Image: Getty)

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“After difficult weeks with very, very slow progress, now we have seen in the last days better progress, more movement on important files. This is good,” she said.

While the three main outstanding issues – fisheries, state aid rules and governance arrangements – were still to be resolved, she said negotiators were now working from legal texts with “substance where you can go through line by line”.

“Progress, for example, has been made on the question of state aid,” she said.

However with the current Brexit transition period due to end at the end of the year when Britain will finally leave the single market and the customs union, she acknowledged time was tight if they were to get a deal in time.

“There are quite some metres to the finish line. Indeed, time pressure is high without any question at the moment,” she said.

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