Brexit: UK and EU hold 'constructive' meeting as government looks conclude talks before end of year

Brexit negotiators from the UK and EU have held a "constructive" meeting via video-conference, as both sides aim to wind up talks before the end of the year.

The meeting between Britain's David Frost and the EU's Michel Barnier came after the government committed to press ahead with plans to complete the divorce by the end of the year, despite coronavirus causing difficulties.

At Tuesday's daily Covid-19 press conference, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he was "confident" a conclusion could be reached by both sides, within a "timeline that we’ve set out".

But in a joint statement released Wednesday afternoon, both sides said "in order to make real, tangible progress", there would be a need for further negotiating rounds.

In the meeting, both sides "took stock of the technical work" that had taken place since the last negotiating round, and looked ahead to further talks.

The statement said "given the ongoing coronavirus crisis" all future rounds would take place via video.

Further talks, which will last one week per round, have been planned for April 20, May 11, and June 1.

These talks will come ahead of a "High Level meeting" between both sides in May.

Mr Frost and Mr Barnier also discussed the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

They agreed that the proper and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement was a key priority for both sides.

At Tuesday's press conference, Chancellor Sunak said: “We remain very committed to the timeline that we’ve set out to conclude those by the end of this year.

“David Frost, our chief EU negotiator on behalf of the Prime Minister, was in touch with his deputy counterpart last week and with Michel Barnier, his direct counterpart, this week to make sure that we have a timeline in place for this phase of the negotiations which obviously can happen over video conferences and texts and legal agreements are being exchanged between the EU and ourselves.

“I’m confident that that work can continue and hopefully reach a satisfactory conclusion, but we remain committed to the timeline that we set out.”