UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to hold post-Brexit trade talks next week with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as major progress is still thought to be lacking in the UK-EU future relationship talks.
The UK left the European Union on January 31, 2020, and is now in a transition period with talks taking place to decide on a future relationship such as on issues of trade between the UK and EU. The transition period is currently due to end on December 31 this year, though many have expressed fears that this does not leave long enough for a trade deal to be agreed.
The UK has long said and recently reaffirmed that it will not agree to an extension of the transition period. The First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford have urged the government to agree to an extension, with them saying in a letter on Friday that failing to do so would be “extraordinarily reckless”. The two leaders, who both supported the Remain campaign in the 2016 EU referendum, are now arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the situation since the UK formally voted to leave the bloc.
The talks between Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen are due to take place via video link on Monday, with many hoping that some progress can be made on the biggest sticking points in the negotiations.
Particular sticking points have so far remained on fisheries and competition rules and both the UK and EU said that the recent fourth round of talks had achieved no major progress on these.
The negotiations have been continuing during the Coronavirus pandemic, which has so far led to the deaths of at least 41,279 people in the UK according to government figures.
If no deal can be achieved by the end of the transition period, the UK will face a ‘no-deal’ scenario, as was so often discussed during the negotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement last year. Exactly what a no-deal scenario may look like is not completely understood, though many businesses would rather not find out and potentially face the uncertainty that many fear it could bring.
Photo: Boris Johnson signing the Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union in January 2020 | Photo Credit: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street under licence (CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)