Brexit trade talks have been suspended after a member of the EU team tested positive for coronavirus, chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said.
Taking to Twitter, he stated that this had been agreed with the UK's chief negotiator Lord David Frost. He went on: 'We have decided to suspend the negotiations at our level for a short period. The teams will continue their work in full respect of guidelines.'
Lord Frost then echoed the news on his own account, adding: 'I am in close contact with Michel Barnier about the situation. The health of our teams comes first. I would like to thank the EU Commission for their immediate help and support.'
It is unclear how long talks will be suspended for, or whether other members of both negotiating teams will have to self-isolate.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the EU Commission, stated that work between the two parties would continue 'in full respect of Covid-19 rules'. She wished the negotiator with the positive test a 'speedy recovery'.
Negotiators are currently locked in intensive discussions in Brussels as they look to secure a post-Brexit trading arrangement before the transition period ends on December 31.
Barnier and Lord Frost had both wanted an outline for an agreement by today's EU leaders' summit, but so far talks have been held up over future fishing rights and state aid rules.
Earlier this week Boris Johnson has warned it is 'far from certain' that the UK will get a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU. A spokesperson for the PM made clear there were still 'significant issues' that needed to be resolved amid the talks.
They went on: 'The PM said that his position hasn't changed: the UK is keen to secure a deal with the EU, but not at the cost of our core principles around sovereignty and control over our laws, borders, money – and our fish.
'Significant issues remain, particularly on the so-called level playing field and fisheries. We are working hard to find solutions which fully respect UK sovereignty, but it is far from certain that an agreement will prove possible and time is now very short.
'The PM said that, if we cannot find suitable compromises with our European friends, we will leave the transition period on Australia terms on January 1. The PM said he was incredibly confident that the UK will thrive with or without a free trade agreement with the EU.'
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