Posted on Mar 19, 2020
The news that Michel Barnier, EU chief Brexit negotiator, has tested positive for coronavirus will cast doubt on any chance of the EU and UK meeting the deadline for striking a trade deal.
In Brussels it has been quietly assumed for some time that the UK, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson's statements to the contrary, will be asking for an extension in any case. Barnier's unfortunate indisposition may find Johnson with a genuine reason to back-track on his promise not to allow coronavirus to delay the talks.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who last met with Barnier two weeks ago, is to undergo testing for the virus. It is reported that she is not showing any symptoms thus far.
Barnier said that he is "doing well and in good spirits", and thanked medical staff for their work.
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