A Brexit deal is “some way” away as negotiations on a key obstacle remain fraught, the UK’s chief negotiator has said.
But Lord Frost added that Britain’s door “would never be closed to a deal” even if Boris Johnson’s 15 October deadline is missed.
Meanwhile, following talks with Mr Johnson, the European Council president Charles Michel urged Britain to put its “cards on the table” because although the EU wanted a deal, it would not agree to one if the cost was too high.
As difficult as Wednesday was on the Brexit front, coronavirus threw up more challenges still for the government.
Earlier, Sir Keir Starmer challenged Mr Johnson over his government’s coronavirus testing failures at PMQs, accusing him of “messing up” his response to the crisis. The Labour leader has also demanded ministers publish scientific evidence for the 10pm pub curfew.
In the north of England, regional leaders are in revolt over how local lockdowns have affected their cities. The leaders of Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle city councils have written to the government, arguing its strategy is failing and that they should be put in control.
On a sunnier note, Grant Shapps and Matt Hancock have now created a taskforce designed to reduce the burden of the 14-day quarantine for travellers to the UK.
It will explore how a new testing regime can “facilitate more Covid-secure travel whilst protecting the population from imported cases”.