Brexit talks could be delayed over coronavirus

Pedro Gonçalves
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Brexit talks could be delayed over coronavirus

The former chancellor Philip Hammond has warned that the coronavirus outbreak could stall Brexit trade negotiations.

Speaking to the Sunday Times he said that governments and political leaders will have to turn their attention away from trade talks.

He explained: "If the virus starts to disrupt everyday life... and many other processes have slowed down as a consequence, there is no reason to think that Brexit trade talks will be immune, then the parties will have to work together in good faith to decide how to manage that."

If the virus starts to disrupt everyday life... there is no reason to think that Brexit trade talks will be immune"

The newspaper reports that EU officials "have talked to EU counterparts about halting the talks if the crisis deepens".

Hammond called on the government to access "critical and structural weakness in just-in-time supply chains" ahead of Rishi Sunak, the incumbent Chancellor's budget.

He urged his successor to give business the chance to hold "resilience stocks" and mandate all firms to publish a "supply chain resilience statement" with their annual reports.

Hammond explained no deal planning presumed goods would "stuck on the other side of the Channel" but coronavirus provided a different risk.

However, over the weekend current chancellor Rishi Sunak denied the government would delay the transition period because of the coronavirus.

For an extension to happen both sides must agree to it before July 1.

 

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