Leaders of the G7 industrialised countries are meeting in Cornwall this weekend to discuss vaccines, the pandemic recovery and the climate crisis
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The head of the World Trade Organization said on Saturday she hoped that post-Brexit tensions between Britain and the European Union would not escalate into a trade war.
“I would really, really hope that a UK-EU trade war will not take place,” WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in response to a question when speaking to reporters covering a Group of Seven leaders’ summit in southwestern England.
“With all the opportunities there are too for dialogue, I would be a little surprised if we ended up with a UK-EU trade war,” she said. “It’s too costly for both sides. This is not what the world needs right now.”
Boris Johnson has said the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus is a matter of “serious, serious concern” as he prepares to put lockdown lifting on hold.
The prime minister is expected to announce a delay of up to four weeks in the final easing of restrictions in England which had been due to take place on June 21 under the government’s road map.
Speaking during the G7 summit in Cornwall, he insisted that no decisions had been taken ahead of a formal announcement on Monday.
However he made clear that there had been a deterioration in the situation, with a surge in cases of the Delta variant – first detected in India – since the start of the month.
“It’s clear that the Indian variant is more transmissible and it’s also true that the cases are going up, and that the levels of hospitalisation are going up,” he told Sky News.
“Now, we don’t know exactly to what extent that is going to feed through into extra mortality, but clearly it’s a matter of serious, serious concern.”
Asked if he was less optimistic now than he was at the end of May, he said: “Yes, that’s certainly fair.
“What we want to do is make sure that the road map is irreversible, but you can’t have an irreversible road map unless you’re prepared to be cautious.
“Some of the data is still open to question, but we’ll be making an announcement on Monday.”