​German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warns of ​"growing risk of a hard Brexit"​

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, speaking to Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper on Saturday, warned of a "growing risk of a hard Brexit" as negotiations between Britain and the EU on the future trade relationship have yet to make any significant progress, and as the bloc's negotiators appear to be preparing for the worst case scenario.

“It’s worrying that Britain is moving further away from our jointly agreed political declaration on key issues in the negotiations,” the minister said.

“It’s simply not on, because the negotiations are a complete package as it’s laid out in the political declaration.

“The British government is still refusing to extend the deadline, if it stays that way, we will have to deal with Brexit in addition to the coronavirus at the turn of the year.”

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warned on Friday the coronavirus pandemic had made an already difficult timeline for a British-European Union trade deal “virtually impossible” and that it would make sense to seek more time.

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The EU appears to have been pushing hard for an extension to the December 31st deadline for some weeks now, something that Boris Johnson's government has ruled out. Brussels may be banking on the fact that Johnson, who famously stated that he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than agree to extend Brexit just weeks before he did indeed ask for an extension, may fold again.

If this is the case, Brussels strategy is deeply flawed: Johnson now enjoys a respectable majority in Parliament, and exerts far more control over his party than the fractured one his predecessor Theresa May bequeathed him.

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