08:32 GMT29 March 2020
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    Coronavirus Pandemic: Borders Shut, Public Events Cancelled (240)

    Negotiations on the future relationship between London and Brussels in the post-Brexit era will continue despite the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier testing positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on 20 March.

    British people have expressed support for an extension to the 31 December deadline with 55 percent backing the decision, 24 percent still opposing, and 21 percent saying "they don't know", according to a new YouGov survey.

    More than a third of Leave voters (36 percent) backed a delay, with 44 percent opposed, and 79 percent of Remain voters supported the extension, the poll shows.

    Conservative voters were divided on whether to kick back the 31 December deadline, with 44 percent opposed and 39 percent in support. Some 73 percent of Labour voters supported a delay, with only 6 percent opposed. Some 85 percent of Liberal Democrats also backed an extension, according to the poll.

    ​On 19 March, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier announced on social media that he had contracted COVID-19 and was following all necessary instructions from health care professionals. The European Commission president stated that his diagnosis would not affect the course of negotiations, although planned talks scheduled to take place this week were cancelled on 17 March.

    After formally leaving the European Union on 31 January, the UK and EU have until the end of an eleven-month transition period to conclude a range of agreements on the future relationship between London and Brussels, the most pressing of which is a wide-ranging free trade deal.

    At a press conference on 18 March, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that an extension to the transition period was not being considered despite the disruption caused by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

    Coronavirus Pandemic: Borders Shut, Public Events Cancelled (240)
    coronavirus, COVID-19, transition deal, transition period, transition, Brexit, United Kingdom
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