Boris Johnson self-isolates as Brexit talks enter last leg

World Monday 16/November/2020 16:31 PM
By: DW
Boris Johnson self-isolates as Brexit talks enter last leg

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in precautionary self-isolation on Monday after contact with a lawmaker who tested positive for COVID-19 as Brexit talks resumed with Britain insisting its red lines were still in place.

The UK does, however, remain hopeful of reaching a trade deal with the European Union. 

"Our red lines haven't changed and we're preparing for whatever the outcome is," Health Secretary Matt Hancock told UK broadcaster Sky. "Of course our preference is to get a deal and that is open to the Europeans if they choose to make the progress that's needed," he said. 

Britain left the EU as a political institution in January, but its trading ties to the bloc are yet to change in any meaningful way. The two sides are trying to seal a long-term deal on future trading terms before a transition period expires at the end of the year. 

The last-ditch talks have ran well past the two sides' original planned deadlines. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney estimated on Monday that barely a week remained to strike an accord. 

"We really are in the last week to 10 days of this, if there is not a major breakthrough over the next week to 10 days then I think we really are in trouble and the focus will shift to preparing for a no trade deal and all the disruption that brings," Coveney told Ireland's Newstalk radio station.

Johnson in 'rude health'

Hancock also spoke of Johnson, describing the prime minister as "full of beans" despite self-isolating due to being in close proximity with lawmaker Lee Anderson, who attended a meeting with the PM on Thursday before testing positive for the coronavirus.

From his flat above Downing Street, Johnson will be limited to Zoom calls and other forms of remote communication during what could prove the last leg of Brexit talks in Brussels.  

"I'm fit as a butcher's dog — feel great," a jovial Johnson said in a video posted on Twitter. He also said that he still needed to isolate, despite his previous bout of COVID-19 and him therefore probably being "bursting with antibodies," as he put it. 

Johnson spent three days in intensive care with the coronavirus in April.