Brexit trade talks may be cancelled as the coronavirus spreads rapidly across Europe

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
  • The UK’s next round of trade talks with the EU may be cancelled due to the coronavirus.
  • Michael Gove, who is overseeing the UK’s preparations for life outside the EU, said it was a “live question” whether talks in London would go ahead as planned next week.
  • Sources in Downing Street and Brussels tell Business Insider that talks are still currently scheduled to go ahead.
  • Follow the latest developments in the UK as the COVD-19 virus spreads across the country.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The next round of post-Brexit trade talks between the United Kingdom and European Union might have to be cancelled as the virus spreads rapidly across Europe, UK government minister Michael Gove said on Wednesday.

Gove, who is overseeing the UK’s preparations for life outside of the EU, told Members of Parliament on Wednesday that it was a “live question” whether talks scheduled to take place in London next week would go ahead.

“It is a live question. We were looking forward to Joint Committee meeting in UK on 30th this month and also looking forward, of course, to the next next stage of negotiations going ahead,” he told the House of Commons committee for the UK’s Future Relationship with the EU.

“But we have had indications today from Belgium that there may be specific public health concerns so I will keep house and committee update on progress.”

A Downing Street source told Business Insider that talks were currently set to take place as planned but that Boris Johnson’s government would continue to receive scientific advice on the safety of holding them.

A senior EU source also told Business Insider that talks were currently scheduled to take place next week as planned.

The COVID-19 virus has gripped Europe, with governments across the continent taking radical steps to combat its spread.

The EU on Tuesday announced that it was giving €7.5 billion to health systems and businesses across the 27 member states in order to help them cope with the impact of coronavirus.

In the UK, Johnson’s government is on Wednesday set to reveal a series of emergency measures for dealing with the financial impact of the outbreak.