European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said the UK appears set to blame any post-Brexit fallout on the economic shock from the coronavirus crisis. The tortuous talks, now focused on setting new trading terms from 2021 when London's status-quo transition period after Brexit ends, quickly hit an impasse when they resumed last month.
The Brussels bureaucrat told Irish national broadcaster RTE the EU and UK were making "slow progress".
He said: "Despite the urgency and enormity of the negotiating challenge, I am afraid we are only making very slow progress in the Brexit negotiations.
"There is no real sign that our British friends are approaching the negotiations with a plan to succeed. I hope I am wrong, but I don't think so."
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Brexit news: Phil Hogan has taken a swipe at the UK (Image: GETTY )
Brexit news: Phil Hogan accused the UK of not wanting to make progress (Image: GETTY )
"I think that the United Kingdom politicians and government have certainly decided that COVID is going to be blamed for all the fallout from Brexit and my perception of it is they don't want to drag the negotiations out into 2021 because they can effectively blame COVID for everything."
The two sides are entering a crucial phase of talks, with two rounds scheduled before the end of June, at which point Britain could seek a one or two year extension, a prospect Prime Minister Boris Johnson has strongly ruled out.
Mr Hogan, a former Irish government minister, said he hoped to see a step change in the negotiations next week and that if that happened, there was no