Boris Johnson’s minister ruins Remainer hopes – declares no case for humiliating extension

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Number 10 believe fears over a no deal Brexit are “almost irrelevant” as the global economy already comes up against the challenges of the coronavirus crisis, according to insiders. This means Boris Johnson’s Government is confident to push ahead with Brexit, without an extension, meaning a no deal exit from the bloc is more likely if talks with the EU fail to reach an agreement.

A minister told Sky News: “No deal Brexit was going to be the biggest thing to happen to our economy until three months ago. Now it’s almost irrelevant.

“That’s certainly part of the Brexit calculation if we’re going to see 10-15 percent wiped off our GDP anyway.

“Politically there’s no case for extension, it looks humiliating and angers Boris’s natural supporters.”

While Cabinet Office minister Penny Mordaunt told a Tory MP in the House of Commons on Tuesday that a Brexit delay was a “crazy” idea and he was “damn right” that extending would “serve no useful purpose”.

Negotiations on a post-Brexit relationship between the UK and EU are approaching stagnation after four rounds of talks.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier lamented “no significant areas of progress” have been made on Friday.

While the UK’s David Frost conceded that they are “close to reaching the limits” of the formal talks, which are taking place virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brexit formally took place on January 31, but the UK is still in the transition period in which it follows EU laws until the end of the year.

The two sides are trying to thrash out an agreement on a future relationship to include an ambitious free trade deal.

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But after four rounds of negotiations, the end-of-month deadline for asking for an extension to the transition is fast approaching.

Talks will continue but it could soon be time to bring in the political leaders who would have the power to make real concessions and compromise.

Though no date is set, the summit is expected to be in the form of a video call between Mr Johnson, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel.

European Parliament president David-Maria Sassoli could also join them.

If no major breakthrough is made, all eyes will be on the Prime Minister, who has repeatedly ruled out asking for an extension.

As it stands, Britain will leave the EU single market when the current Brexit transition period comes to an end at the end of the year with nothing to replace it unless a deal is agreed.

Mr Barnier said the “door is still open” for the UK to seek an extension to the transition period to allow more time for negotiations to continue – something which Mr Johnson has repeatedly ruled out.

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