London: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that there was “no talk” of extending the Brexit transition period despite the global coronavirus crisis.
The outbreak has cancelled trade talks between the European Union (EU) and the UK but the Prime Minister said on Wednesday night that the deadline remained December 31, reports the Metro newspaper.
There have been calls to extend the transition period after Europe was declared the epicentre of the epidemic, outside of mainland China where the virus first emerged last December in the city of Wuhan.
The end of year deadline was always considered an ambitious goal but now borders across the 27-nation bloc have been shut and entire countries placed in lockdown.
Addressing the issue during his daily press conference, Johnson was asked about a delay.
“It’s not a subject that’s being regularly discussed, I can tell you, in Downing Street at the moment,” he told reporters.
“There is legislation in place that I have no intention of changing.”
The Government had no plans to publish the draft treaty, whereas the EU’s version had leaked to various media outlets ahead of it being shared with the UK.
“We are sharing ours in confidence as a negotiating document, as part of the ongoing negotiating process,” a Government spokeswoman said.
“Teams will now analyse each other’s texts and we expect further conversations between the teams next week,” the Metro daily quoted the spokeswoman as saying.
The UK officially left the bloc at 11 p.m. on January 31 and has now entered a transition period until the end of the year.
The first round of talks was held in Brussels earlier this month and both sides remain far from any kind of agreement about the future relationship.
The UK wants a ‘Canada-style’ free trade agreement while Brussels has called for a closer relationship.