With COVID-19 absorbing almost all our attention at the moment, it would be easy to forget Brexit; but it hasn’t vanished, and it remains a very real issue and concern for us.

While the UK exited the EU at the end of January last, the transition period continues until 31 December 2020 during which time, the trading relationships between the UK and the EU remain as were before the January Exit. However, if no future relationship arrangement is negotiated by the December transition end date, and no extension is requested and agreed to, then the UK will automatically move to a trading relationship with EU member states based on the World Trade Organisation rules and rates.

This would not be good for Ireland and Irish firms trading with the UK. Coming, if it does, at the end of this year, it would compound an already bleak outlook for the Irish economy.

Negotiations on any future deal have been delayed because of COVID-19 issues, not least the fact that some on the negotiating teams tested positive for the vires. More generally, negotiations are more difficult in the lockdown scenario.

June is the latest time at which the UK can request an extension of the transition period but this week its chief Brexit negotiator, David Frost said that the UK would not be seeking any extension, concluding “it is not in the UK’s interest to extend”.