The UK left the EU on 31 January. A transition period has followed during which market access remains the same and the UK and EU are negotiating an agreement on their future relationship. The manifesto I stood on was clear that the transition period would not be extended beyond December 2020 and this has been put into law.
The outbreak of COVID-19 is serious and my ministerial colleagues are doing everything they can to tackle the virus based on the latest scientific and medical advice. The latest round of negotiations took place via video conference in the week beginning 11 May and a further round will take place in the week beginning 1 June.
I appreciate there are concerns about the deadline but ministers have already shown that they are able to negotiate international agreements with speed and efficiency. The Withdrawal Agreement was re-opened and re-negotiated in under three months despite many believing that this would be not be possible. A high-level summit will take place in June where both sides intend to take stock of progress.
The UK and the EU share closely aligned interests and I am confident that the determination and willingness of the Parties to reach a free trade agreement will ensure that the matter is brought to a conclusion by the end of 2020 as legally committed to in good faith by both parties as part of the transition period.