‘We need Brexit done to help the UK recovery from coronavirus’. Downing Street rejects any delay to EU trade talks because of the pandemic saying it needs ‘legislative and economic flexibility’ after IMF head urges it to postpone the deadline past December
- Kristalina Georgieva appealed to the Government to focus on the pandemic
- Economist told the BBC ‘It is tough as it is. Let’s not make it any tougher’
- EU/UK negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost had remote talks yesterday
- Ministers are insisting that the December deadline will not be extended
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
Britain will not delay severing its ties with the EU because it needs ‘legislative and economic flexibility’ to help the economy recover from coronavirus, Dowing Street said today.
No 10 flatly rejected a call from the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to delay the end of the transition period past its current December 31 deadline to focus on the pandemic.
Bulgarian economist Kristalina Georgieva appealed to the Government in a BBC interview to focus on the disease which has shut down large chunks of the global economy, saying: ‘It is tough as it is. Let’s not make it any tougher.’
It followed wider calls from opposition politicians and businesses to halt talks, which have been continuing remotely, and negotiate a delay.
But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman today told reporters: ‘We will not ask to extend the transition period, and if the EU asks we will say ‘no’.
‘Extending the transition would simply prolong the negotiations, prolong business uncertainty and delay the moment of control of our borders.
‘It would also keep us bound by EU legislation at the point when we need legislative and economic flexibility to manage the UK response to the coronavirus pandemic.’
Bulgarian economist Kristalina Georgieva appealed to the Government to focus on the pandemic, saying: ‘It is tough as it is. Let’s not make it any tougher’
UK negotiator David Frost and Brussels counterpart Michel Barnier (pictured above at a previous round of talks) held remote talks yesterday (top) and unveiled three week-long virtual summits are planned, later this month, in May and early June
The IMF warned on Tuesday that the world economy is heading for its steepest downturn this year since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Speaking last night Ms Georgieva said: ‘My advice would be to seek ways in which this element of uncertainty is reduced in the interests of everybody, of the UK, of the EU, the whole world.’
Downing Street insisted last night its threat to walk away from Brexit talks in June if not enough progress on a deal with the EU had been made remains in place despite the coronavirus pandemic.
In a joint statement the two sides said that a meeting of high-level figures earmarked for June would ‘take stock of the progress made’, and suggested the two sides remain some way apart.
Asked about the threat to walk away from the talks in June and go it alone if not enough progress had been made, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: ‘What we said was June was the period in which we can take stock in relation to how negotiations have progressed.
‘That remains the case.’
In her interview with the BBC, the IMF managing director praised the emergency measures taken by Britain’s finance ministry and the Bank of England which she said had been taken ‘early’ and were well-coordinated.
‘That very strong package of measures is helping the UK, but given the UK’s sizeable role in the world economy, it’s actually helping everyone,’ Georgieva said.
The government has increased spending and cut taxes in measures that Britain’s budget office estimates will cost 100 billion pounds ($125 billion). It has also offered guarantees for 330 billion pounds of company loans.