UK Boris Johnson isolating as Brexit talks drag on

LONDON, ENGLAND – Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual briefing.

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LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is self-isolating after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, but it comes at a tricky time for his leadership, amid a reboot of government policies and as Brexit talks drag on.

Johnson, who was severely-ill with Covid-19 back in April, announced on Sunday that he was self-isolating at his official residency. The U.K. asks people who have been in contact with a positive case of coronavirus to self-isolate for 14 days.

“I’m in good health and have no symptoms, and will continue to lead on our response to the virus,” Johnson said on Twitter on Monday.

I’ll have plenty more to say in the course of the next few days.

Boris Johnson

U.K. Prime Minister

The timing of the self-isolation is difficult, however, as he is due to reveal a host of new policies this week. The reboot, which is expected a include more environmentally-friendly policies, comes after the departure of key political advisor Dominic Cummings, who had a leading role in Johnson’s successful Brexit campaign. Communications director Lee Cain also left the team last week.

The prime minister was due to attend a key parliamentary session on Wednesday, but this may now happen via a virtual call.

“I’ll have plenty more to say in the course of the next few days … by Zoom and other means of electronic communication,” the prime minister added.

Brexit pressure

Johnson is also under pressure over Brexit as talks with the European Union drag on.

“Cummings’ departure will facilitate an agreement (with the EU),” Mujtaba Rahman, managing director of the consultancy firm Eurasia Group, told CNBC’s Street Signs on Monday. “He was a key proponent of a hard line against the EU. (He) has been pushing for maximum flexibility on the question of state aid and the government not signing up to level-playing field commitments with the EU.”

U.K. and EU negotiators are gathered in Brussels for more talks on their future relationship this week. The U.K. voted to leave the EU in 2016 and exited the bloc in January. However, it is currently in a transition phase until December while looking to establish new trade rules with the 27 EU countries.

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