Coronavirus prompts entire round of Brexit trade deal talks to be cancelled

The UK and EU have cancelled this week's Brexit trade deal talks due to the coronavirus.

Negotiators were due to start a three-day-long, second round of talks on a future relationship between London and Brussels.

But first the talks were axed in a face-to-face format and now they won't take place at all.

There is also a question mark over future rounds of talks which were due from April 6.

Downing Street did not say the future talks are cancelled, but it's believed officials are trying to find a way to work around the previously-agreed structure for talks.

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Officials had been due to work in parallel "work streams" but will now only commit to sharing a draft Free Trade Agreement.

Britain was already in a race against time to agree draft terms with Brussels before a deadline in the summer.

A UK government spokesman said: “Both sides remain fully committed to the negotiations and we remain in regular contact with the European Commission to consider alternative ways to continue discussions, including looking at the possibility of video conferencing or conference calls, and exploring flexibility in the structure for the coming weeks."

Britain today stopped short of guaranteeing the transition period – when EU rules come to an end – will definitely finish on December 31 under all circumstances.

Boris Johnson has previously said not only that the transition period ends on December 31, but that it won't be extended.

Today, a UK government spokesman said: “The transition period ends on 31 December 2020. This is enshrined in UK law.”

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