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Brexit negotiations: UK urged to reconsider trade talks deadline

Brexit negotiations: UK urged to reconsider trade talks deadline

The UK has been urged to reconsider its position on a possible extension to Brexit trade talks amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

Up to now, the UK has insisted that the deadline for the conclusion of Brexit trade talks at the end of this year will not be extended, however, the International Monetary Fund's Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has said the UK would be 'wise' not to add to current economic uncertainty by ruling out an extension.

The UK left the European Union on January 31, 2020, and is currently in a transition period where it remains a member of the EU's customs union and single market. The transition period currently runs up until December 31, however, trade talks have been largely stalled for weeks due to officials putting more focus on the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to the BBC, Georgieva said that because of the "unprecedented uncertainty" brought about by the pandemic, it would be "wise not to add more on top of it." She added, "I really hope that all policymakers everywhere would be thinking about [reducing uncertainty]. It is tough as it is, let's not make it any tougher."

On Wednesday, the UK Prime Minister's official spokesman said that there were no plans to change the deadline, adding that “it is written in law that the transition period will end on 31 December”.

It comes as one EU official told POLITICO that Brexit was no longer a priority, reportedly saying, "Let's be honest: The political leadership is focused on something else now", adding, "If your house is on fire, that's your first and sole priority."

Further Brexit talks have been planned to start next week. A review is due to take place in June to decide whether an extension to the transition period is requested.

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