A UK Government spokesman insisted the strict deadline set by the Prime Minister is “enshrined in UK law”. He admitted on Tuesday they would not “formally be convening negotiating work tomorrow” but that both sides remain “fully committed” to the talks process. The spokesman said: “In light of the latest guidance on coronavirus, we will not formally be convening negotiating work strands tomorrow in the way we did in the previous round.”
“We expect to share a draft FTA alongside the draft legal texts of a number of the standalone agreements in the near future still, as planned.
“Both sides remain fully committed to the negotiations and we remain in regular contact with the European Commission to consider alternative ways to continue discussions, including looking at the possibility of video conferencing or conference calls, and exploring flexibility in the structure for the coming weeks.
“The transition period ends on December 31, 2020. This is enshrined in UK law.”
The latest commitment from the Government came after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab came under pressure from opposition MPs in the House of Commons to extend the transition period.
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock told him: “Rather than trying to fight this war on two fronts, if you like, and stretching government bandwidth to breaking point, surely the time is now coming to request an extension to the transition period and it’s better to do that than to put ideology ahead of the health and safety of the British people.”
But before talks were cancelled, former Brexit Secretary Mr Raab insisted: “We’re confident that we can get this done and, actually, I don’t think delaying Brexit negotiations would give anyone the certainty – on either side of the Channel – that they need.”
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8.04am update: EU ordered to axe Brexit transition after Boris sparks anger with UK coronavirus response
Brussels has been urged to axe Britain from the post-Brexit transition period after Boris Johnson provoked fury through his “inaction” to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
The Prime Minister was accused of putting the lives of some 3.2 million European citizens living in the UK at risk after not putting the country into full lockdown.
A group of senior Italian MEPs, including a European Parliament vice-president, have penned a letter to the European Commission calling for the bloc to place Britain under “sanctions” until the Government implements more draconian measures to curtail the spread of the deadly virus.
“Boris Johnson communicated the decision not to combat coronavirus contagion, awaiting its spread among citizens and their ‘flock immunisation’,” they wrote, in the memo seen by Express.co.uk.
“His irresponsible decision does not take into account the claims of the WHO and has been severely contested by the scientific community and in particular by the best known virologists and immunologists internationally, as it exposes thousands of people at risk of life, including many Europeans residing in the United Kingdom.
“In addition, British inaction is likely to wipe out the massive virus containment efforts in the Member States in the coming months, exposing the entire EU to a second epidemic wave.”
7.50am update: How bust-up sparked fears of WAR at sea after ‘pirate’ behaviour
Brexit means the UK can soon take back control of its fishing waters – but there are concerns it could increase tensions with its neighbours, as disputes in the past have sparked fears of a war at sea, documents unearthed by Express.co.uk have revealed.
Under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which began in 1983, all EU countries have access to each other’s waters.
Upon leaving the bloc, the UK will regain control of its 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone, as per UN convention.
Currently, Norway allows EU and therefore UK boats to fish in its own EEZ waters in return for market access as well as the right to fish in the EU, and particularly UK, EEZs.
It is expected that post-Brexit, the UK will attempt to trade access to the UK market for access to Norwegian waters.
Similarly, market access to the EU will likely be a key element in UK-EU negotiations, given that the EU is the largest fisheries market in the world and a net importer of fish.
As the European Economic Area (EEA) does not cover fisheries, Norway and other EEA countries do not benefit from entirely free trade with the EU – there are different rules for different fish species, as well as for processed and unprocessed fish.
For some species like farmed salmon, Brexit may increase competition between the UK and Norway and the UK’s EU access advantage could disappear, potentially leading to increased tensions between fishermen from the two countries.
However, such fishing disputes with Norway are nothing new – the UK and Norway are the two largest nautical powers in the plentiful North Sea and have clashed before.
Documents unearthed at the National Archives by Express.co.uk have revealed that alleged offences by UK fishing vessels sparked fears of a war at sea with Norway.
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