Wednesday 11 March 2020 11:28 am

Michael Gove: Coronavirus might derail Brexit trade talks with EU

Michael Gove has admitted coronavirus could derail the next round of trade talks with the EU amid “specific public health concerns”.

Asked what impact the outbreak of the disease, which has led to the whole of Italy being put into lockdown, would have on the Brexit talks, the Cabinet Office minister told MPs it was “a live question”.

Gove added: ” 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, but we have had indications today from Belgium that there may be specific public health concerns.”

The frontbencher, who is responsible for Brexit preparations, told the Future Relationship with the European Union Committee that he would keep both the Commons and them “update on progress”.

But he ruled out any delay to the Brexit process, saying there would be no extension to the transition period beyond this year.

Asked about the UK’s supply chains in the event of a no-deal, in light of empty shelves as people stockpile over coronavirus concerns, Gove praised “businesses’ ingenuity and capacity to adapt”.