Brexit talks on hold after European Union negotiator tests positive for Covid-19

London England. The Brexit transition period is due to end on December 31st after which the two parties will trade on World Trade O

EU makes final push to reach an agreement with the UK

"Fisheries are not really moving anywhere right now".

EU diplomats were briefed on the status of the talks this morning by a senior member of the European Commission.

It added uncertainty to the negotiations as a deadline looms ever closer and both sides are still divided on three key issues.

In a sign of the progress made, the legal text of agreements on all topics except the three most contentious ones have been drafted.

"We still have, of course, the three main hard issues: governance, fisheries and the level playing field".

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Barnier said that, together with Frost, "we have made a decision to suspend the negotiations at our level for a short period". United Kingdom chief negotiator David Frost tweeted that "the health of our teams comes first." .

A UK Government spokesman said ministers were now talking to Brussels about the "implications for the negotiations". He said talks would continue remotely and resume in person "as soon as it's safe to do so".

BBC Brussels correspondent Nick Beake said he had been told Mr Barnier would now self-quarantine following the team member's test result.

"With David Frost, we have chose to suspend the negotiations at our level for a short period", he added. "We've already been, and will continue to, behave in keeping with general health guidelines and also to ensure the health and wellbeing of our groups", the British authorities said in a statement.

"We are very very close ... it's fair to say it will be a matter of days", the Canadian source told Reuters News Agency, requesting anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation. The health of our teams comes first.

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As if the Brexit trade negotiations were not tortuous enough, the coronavirus added a twist at a crucial stage on Thursday when top-level talks had to be suspended because an European Union negotiator tested positive for COVID-19.

Mr Macron, supported by Belgium and the Netherlands, demanded the commission publish emergency no deal plans at an European Union summit on Thursday night, despite the risk of destabilising the delicately poised negotiations.

Prior to this week's talks, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock had said that the country's red lines remain unchanged and "we're preparing for whatever the outcome is".

In recent days, though, officials on both sides had privately voiced cautious optimism that a deal could be concluded as soon as next week, suggesting the comments by the two leaders may be an attempt to pressure the United Kingdom government to compromise. The latest round of talks was taking place in the Belgian capital.

On the other hand, if a trade deal is agreed, Kit Juckes, chief FX strategist at Societe Generale, expects sterling to reach 0.85 pence per euro, he said in a note to clients.

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Deadlock remains in a handful of crunch areas, including on post-Brexit fishing rights, and European leaders believe it is now time for the EU to spell out its contingency plans for a disorderly split.

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