EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Barnier Says He Has Coronavirus

(Bloomberg) —

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, announced he has tested positive for the coronavirus, adding to the disruption the virus has already inflicted on the discussions.

In a tweet on Thursday, the 69-year-old said he was in good spirits and is following all the necessary instructions.

The global pandemic has already forced trade talks with the EU to be delayed and is increasingly monopolizing government time and resources — putting the two sides under growing pressure to delay Britain’s final break with the bloc at the year-end.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, though, has dismissed calls to seek an extension to the transition period that Britain entered after leaving the bloc on Jan. 31. If the two sides can’t reach a trade deal by the end of this year, the U.K. would effectively crash out of the bloc, meaning the return of tariffs and quotas.

(Updates with context from first paragraph.)

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